My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Album Review: Darryl Worley – ‘Sounds Like Life’

Sounds Like LifeAfter almost ten years of varying degrees of success, Darryl Worley’s latest album came out recently on Stroudavarious Records. It is produced by Jim ‘Moose’ Brown and Kevin ‘Swine’ Grantt, and Darryl himself wrote or co-wrote almost all the material. One of the few exceptions, ‘Tequila On Ice’, written by Rivers Rutherford and Marty Dodson, served as the lead single, but faltered outside the top 40. The lyric is rather silly, but the tune is pretty and Darryl gives it a sexy, sultry delivery which is very pleasing.

Somewhat surprisingly, Darryl has scored a hit single with the title track, reviewed last week by Meg. It’s not a bad song, and certainly more listenable than most of today’s chart fodder, although there is something of a disconnect between the friend’s troubles, and the cheery message of the chorus. Darryl sounds more sympathetic in ‘Slow Dancing With A Memory,’ which is, deplorably, repeated from his last album, but sees a heartbroken man lost in memories of his beloved, and drinking as ‘He Stopped Loving Her Today’ plays on the jukebox (it’s obviously a very high class bar with such a well stocked jukebox). The protagonist here tells the bartender to leave the poor guy alone.

My favorite track is the beaty opener, ‘Honky Tonk Life’, written by Marty Dodson and Sean Patrick McGraw. This good-humored account of life as a traveling musician feels very authentic in its depiction of the positive and negative aspects: he doesn’t know where they are, they misspell his name on the publicity,
“If we hurry they’ll feed us before we go on and I’ll work it out with the man
Sometimes the beer’s free and sometimes it’s half-price and sometimes there’s no beer at all…

I could quit all this road stuff, go back to my real life and put in a straight 9 to 5
But I love the neon and I love the people and I love the honky tonk life”

The most unusual track is ‘Don’t Show Up (If You Can’t Get Down)’. Darryl deserves some credit for trying something different, but I don’t think the result is entirely successful. The track is over six minutes long, and opens with a staged scene with Darryl’s producers (with whom he wrote the song) on the way to a party at Darryl’s house. For some reason, they call up Mel Tillis to get directions (“If…if…if… you’re in a hurry, you’d better ask somebody else”, he advises). Once the song proper has started, a bluesy party number of very limited lyrical interest, we get treated to guest vocals from, in sequence, Jamey Johnson, John Cowan (best known for his work with New Grass Revival), Bill Anderson (he addresses Mel Tillis, saying as the two oldest there, “I’m afraid if we get down, we might not be able to get up again”), Tillis, John Anderson, Steve Harwell (lead singer of a rock group called Smashmouth), and Ira Dean (late of Trick Pony). It then collapses into a series of one-liners and jokes. It’s funnier than Brad Paisley’s ventures into similar territory, but it feels like a wasted opportunity because the song at the heart of the track is just not good enough. I would have much preferred using Jamey Johnson or John Anderson as a serious duet partner on a good song, and Bill Anderson as a songwriting collaborator (although his interplay wth Mel Tillis in paritcular is genuinely fun). It sounds like everyone involved had a good time, but in the end, listening to this song, you feel like the only sober person at a party where absolutely every other person present is drunk.

‘You Never Know’, written by members of Shenandoah and apprently inspired by the death of a bandmate, is quite a touching expresson of the message that you need to bury those hatchets today, because you don’t know when it may be too late.

The rest of the material leans to the generic. The southern rock ‘Doin’ What’s Right’ offers standardised Advice From Dad:
“Don’t sell out, don’t you compromise,
If it’s something you believe in, son, you may have to fight
You can’t go wrong when you’re doin’ what’s right.”

‘Best Of Both Worlds’ is an unimaginative love song, competently sung but boring, about the kind of girl who is “like an angel with a wild side” (a walking cliche, in other words). Although the lyric is nothing special, I quite liked ‘Everyday Love’, written by Darryl with Wynn Varble and Don Poythress. ‘Nothing But Money’, written with producer Brown and Steve Leslie is not a bad song (on the topic of money not buying love or happiness) but is horribly produced. ‘Messed Up In Memphis’ is not bad, but the blues-influenced groove and tune work better than the lyrics.

I have really liked some of Darryl’s past work, and overall, I was a little disappointed by this release.

Overall grade: C

3 responses to “Album Review: Darryl Worley – ‘Sounds Like Life’

  1. Leeann Ward July 23, 2009 at 7:50 am

    I think this album is okay, but I didn’t notice a stand out song on it. I didn’t think the song with all the one liners was any more successful than Brad’s attempts though. It was a criminal waste of great talent. At least Brad’s “Bigger Fish to Fry” (with Vince Gill, Bill Anderson, Jimmy Dickens) was mildly amusing and could be passed off as a real song. I’ve always had to cherry pick Worley’s songs, because I haven’t liked any albums of his as a whole. He has a great voice though and when he does a song that I like, I really like it.

  2. J.R. Journey July 23, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    I liked several of his early singles too, like ‘Second Wind’ and ‘I Miss My Friend’. I haven’t checked this album out, but I’ll take your word for it, based on the 2 singles I’ve heard.

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