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Darryl Worley

Hard Rain Don't Last – 2000 (DreamWorks Nashville)

Reviewed by Jon Weisberger

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CDs by Darryl Worley

Darryl Worley is a young Tennessean who's turned out one of the year's strongest debuts. Though it's not without its faults, this is a fine first album, loaded with good songs, strong, emotive singing and arrangements that mostly encompass an intelligent update to country traditions.

The album's good points are displayed on the first track, "A Good Day To Run," with plenty of fiddle, steel and twangy lead guitar backing Worley as he delivers a catchy, distinctive melody with a hard-edged country voice. High points include the wistful ballads, "Second Wind" and "The Way Things Are Going," the spiky melody of the title track and "If I Could Be Me," with its classic honkytonk beat. Worley's sensibility includes a healthy respect for the roles that making a living and social relationships play in life, and references to them abound, whether it's in "Feels Like Work," which compares a troubled relationship to the daily work grind or in Mark Nesler's socially conscious "Those Less Fortunate Than I." Though there are a few places where that's clumsily handled, it makes for a refreshing change of pace from the narrow, almost abstract focus on love relationships that characterizes most mainstream country albums these days.

Though there are some dubious moments - incongruous, screaming guitars on "When You Need My Love" and clunky lyrics to the otherwise smooth, invigorating swing of "Too Many Pockets On My Shirt," to name two - it is, on the whole, a solid, welcome entry that offers the hope that Worley will join other young men like Brad Paisley in offering a new kind of country that's an extension, not repudiation of the music's rich tradition.