The rich, reedy tones and all-American, blue-collar themes in his #1 hits “I Miss My Friend,” “Awful, Beautiful Life” and “Have You Forgotten?” are reminders of the down-to-Earth, Haggard-like Darryl Worley you always knew.
The island vibes and blue-eyed soul in new songs “It’s Good To Be Me,” “Lay It On Me” and “Lonely Alone” suggest there’s another, almost-funky, version of Worley that’s been kept under wraps.
The alternate sides are both on display in Second Wind: Latest and Greatest, a project that mixes the traditional-country history he established in Nashville with the ragged soul that’s deep in the bones of Muscle Shoals, a musical Alabama hotbed where Worley got his start. The area hosted hit sessions for Aretha Franklin, Bob Seger, Wilson Pickett and The Rolling Stones, and the sweaty swagger of the region’s recording studios was a perfect fit for Worley as he recorded an album that re-establishes him in country culture.
“So many of those tracks and grooves on the older songs have changed over the years,” Worley allows. “Like ‘Tennessee River Run,’ we did more of a train beat on the original record, but we’ve always played it like Little Feat, with that funky ‘Dixie Chicken’ groove, where you almost can’t find the downbeat. My band does that as good as anybody. And the songs came out exactly how they sound when you go hear them live.”
Second Wind is aptly titled, since it’s the first full-length album released by Worley in eight years, following a self-imposed layoff from recording that has the same familial motivations that spawned Garth Brooks’ legendary retirement from touring. Worley’s wife, Kimberly, gave birth to a girl in 2008, and the weight of the father-daughter relationship was greater than anything he’d anticipated.
Born and raised in southern Tennessee by a Methodist minister and a church-choir mom he describes as a “prayer warrior,” Worley started his musical career at the FAME Studio in Muscle Shoals, under the tutelage of producer/publisher Rick Hall (Mac Davis, Jerry Reed), where he remained for a solid five years. He played clubs almost nightly, honing his stage craft at the same time he was woodshedding his songwriting skills, and as Worley gained confidence, he found his way to Nashville. There, he secured a recording deal in 1999 on the basis of some demo recordings that showcased his authoritative vocals and his understanding of the hard-working country audience.
Blue Gate Music Hall
175 N Van Buren St
Shipshewana, IN 46565
Available February 3, 2023