"To tell you the truth, I've seen a lot of artists over the last 10 years come out with an album that was pretty cool country sounding album, and then a lot of times with the second one, they seem to go off into some other direction," Worley says in a telephone interview from his manager's Nashville office just a few weeks before the release of "I Miss My Friend" on DreamWorks.
His 2000 debut, "Hard Rain Don't Last," contained the music of someone who was more in tune with the genre's traditions like Haggard and Strait. The disc resulted in a few mid-level hits for the Tennessee native, "A Good Day to Run" and "Second Wind.
Many artists will play it safer with a follow-up album, trying to gear it more towards the ever important radio airplay.
But that doesn't seem to be Worley's idea.
"We started off country and traditional, and we want to go a little more in that direction every time," he says. "With this album, we cut a few more outside songs and break things up a little bit and did a few more fun things to lighten the subject matter a little bit.
During his years in Nashville, Worley has seen enough trends come and go like line dancing and hat acts to know that just jumping on the bandwagon isn't going to result in longevity.
"It's like ‘hey look at this, look at the trend.' By the time you get there, it's going to be gone. What you have to do is do what you do and let the market come around and meet you.
"I'm living proof," says Worley, who was musically influenced by his guitar picking grandfather. "I'm a dinosaur. I've passed up a few opportunities to do other records, but now I'm doing what I want to do, and it's worth it to me.
Worley also says he enjoyed more freedom from DreamWorks Records than on the debut.
"They opted for certain things," says Worley of his debut, without specifying. "We struggled quite a bit. We had little battles and tugs of war and what have you. That's part of the process. Ultimately, they were kind and gracious enough to let me make the kind of album I wanted to make.
"I just have a strong strong feeling for what I need to do (musically), and they gave me the freedom to do that.
Worley received favorable reviews and press from his debut and was on the commercial radar screen, though he did not score any huge hits. He hit the road touring for long stretches as well, further getting his name out there.
On the debut, Worley co-penned 10 of the 12 songs. On "I Miss My Friend," Worley wrote 7 of 12.
His label representative brought in a number of songs for Worley to mull over, "but we pretty much recorded what we wanted to. They never even peaked in to see if we were on track. We put together a body of work that we thought would be entertaining and heartfelt. And at the same time, commercial enough to sell some records.
The title track has received most of the pre-release publicity. The song, written by Nashville heavyweight writers Mark Nesler, Tom Shapiro and Tony Martin, has done well on the singles charts for Worley.
The song is connected by Worley to a tragic incident involving Worley 17 or 18 years ago when he was a student at the University of North Alabama. He was dating an older woman, who had a child. "The only time we really saw each other was on the weekends," says Worley.
The two would joke about meeting each other's parents. Apparently, they were getting close to doing so, but before it could happen, the woman and her daughter were killed in a car accident.
"I always thought because we didn't get to do that kind of thing, she didn't know how I felt about her, that I was going to take her her home to meet my mom," says Worley.
"I never got to do that. That's the burden I've carried for all these years.
A video shoot for the song helped bring out the emotions for Worley.
"I've sort of gotten some closure with that whole thing with the video shoot. The whole song was a good therapy. I still miss her, and I know she heard the song, and I got to say the things that I never could have said if it had not been for this opportunity.
Interestingly enough, both producer Frank Rogers (he co-produced the debut and has done similar chores for Brad Paisley) and his label rep, Alison Jones, brought the song to Worley.
"They came to me at both angles," says Worley. "They said this is a song we think you need to listen to and consider recording. We thought because of your past, it might be close to your past. It just slammed me. It's a song I've tried to write a thousand times.
The son of a preacher man describes the song stylistically as "probably a little more progressive. The feel of the song has a little more radio appeal than (most of Worley's songs). That's not necessarily a bad thing.