NASHVILLE Singer/songwriter Darryl Worley refuses to write with country radio in mind.
That disposition, along with the success of his debut album, Hard Rain Don't Last, makes him a member in good standing of country's current crop of rising neotraditionalists.
"I write for the song. I've been doing that for about 10 years, and I haven't had as much outside action, so I've been waitin' it out," Worley said.
Instead Worley's lyrics beckon listeners into his life, and he hopes this glimpse may "help people get through or save some heartache."
"At this point, I don't have anything to hide," Worley said. "This album is sort of like my life story, in the category of lessons learned. To put something out without a personal connection, even if it's successful and you've made money, what else have you learned?
"This album is a big slice of real-life pie. It is a lifelong work in progress, and my hope is people will hear it and know it's honest and real."
Hard Rain Don't Last, which was released July 18, debuted this week at #33 on the Billboard Top Country albums chart. His first single, "When You Need My Love," holds the #16 slot on Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.
"What sets Darryl apart from the current landscape of artists is that his music draws people in because it is so real and they identify with it," said album co-producer James Stroud, who also is head of DreamWorks Nashville. "Hard Rain Don't Last showcases powerful songwriting that captures the emotions most common to everyone."
Worley co-wrote 10 of 12 tracks in the set, with every song detailing the lives of blue-collar, working men and women.
The western swing shuffle "Too Many Pockets" (RealAudio excerpt) rouses Bob Wills and Merle Haggard influences, which Worley explained are in the vein of anything he does.
"When You Need My Love" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Is It Just Us" are ballads with a real dose of reality. The melodic slow dance " 'Second Wind' [RealAudio excerpt] may be my favorite," Worley said. "It really explains the way things are going right now; it's probably my anthem. Every time I hear it, I go right back to where I was when I wrote it."
Other highlights include the working man's "A Good Day To Run" and happy-hour favorites "Sideways" and "If I Could Just Be Me."
"Country has gone a far way from those common-man roots to its farthest limits now," Worley said. "I'm not saying the [pop faction] needs to go away. Those artists have helped us all, especially over the past six or seven years; the format may not have survived without them. But in my heart of hearts, I don't think they care if country's roots disappear."
Fellow young artist Brad Paisley also is carrying the traditional torch and, according to Worley, the two singers are banding together.
"We have really endorsed one another. We're both trying to bring back a kind of music that is almost extinct anything with a traditional sound or feel and we can achieve more together than separately."