Deciding he needed a new challenge as an artist, Darius Rucker turned to award-winning songwriter Ross Copperman as his new production partner for When Was The Last Time, his fifth country album. The album’s first single “If I Told You” was one of the best, most unique songs in Darius Rucker’s repertoire the minute he sang it as it showcases his buttery rich baritone’s best qualities, an emotive nature to his voice that has always given Darius Rucker his unique connection to audiences. “Twenty Something,” a song written by A-listers Shane McAnally, Jon Nite, Zach Crowell and Josh Osborne, is a great partner with “If I Told You” as it tells a narrative which, too, showcases the nuance and strengths of Darius Rucker’s voice (from soft to forceful). “Life’s Too Short” is all about living in the here and now while “For The First Time” is a close thematic cousin.
Darius Rucker has also been an underrated classic country vocalist but his albums have typically featured these kinds of songs and there are three of them here with “Straight To Hell,” “Count The Beers,” and “Another Night With You,” the former a song featuring Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Charles Kelley while the latter two are co-writes with Dean Dillon and Josh Thompson. As good as these moments are on When Was The Last Time (a title ripped from the second single off the project, “For The First Time”), the best moments are where lyrics are able to shine. Moments like those found on “Hands On Me,” “Don’t,” “She” and closer “Story To Tell.”
The choice to work with Ross Copperman has brought a more contemporary “pop” sound to some of the tracks on When Was The Last Time but that’s not a bad thing here as it balances the best qualities of Darius Rucker’s music and the production on quieter moments here showcase why Darius Rucker has a string of hits to his credit. That’s a string of hits that should continue with When Was The Last Time.