What Darryl Worley seems to lack in luck, he continues to make up for in determination. For nearly a decade, the singer-songwriter has bounced from one record label to another, unwavering in his fight for a career in country music -- even funding his newest album, Sounds Like Life.
"I wanted to do the music myself," he recently explained in an interview with CMT.com. "God's been good to me and my family and my career. Even though we've had to jump from one record label to the next, we've always found a way to get back in the thick of it."
Worley first found his musical home at the Nashville division of DreamWorks Records where he charted his first single, "When You Need My Love," in 2000. He continued throughout the years with a string of hits, including No. 1 hits, "I Miss My Friend," "Have You Forgotten?" and "Awful, Beautiful Life."
Things began changing for Worley after DreamWorks' record division was purchased by the Universal Music Group in 2003. UMG merged the label with Mercury and MCA a year later. In 2005, Worley found himself without a deal. Pushing on, he searched for other outlets for his music. In 2006, he signed with Neal McCoy's newly-started label, 903 Records -- but failed to reach the chart-topping success he had hoped.
"When the deal ended at 903, I made up my mind to wipe my slate completely clean," Worley explained. "I changed everything from the ground up -- the record label, producer, everything."
As a result, Worley used his own money to fund his sixth album and latest project, Sounds Like Life, released on Stroudavarious Records. Ironically, James Stroud, the founder of the new label, previously headed DreamWorks Nashville and signed Worley to his first recording contract almost 10 years ago.
"We made some great music together in the past," he said. "It was right. It is right."
Much like Worley's adamant climb, "Sounds Like Life to Me," his current single from the new album, continues to climb Billboard's country chart. Appropriately, the song carries Worley's same unshakable attitude.
"It's absolutely tough love" he said. "Not only that, it's a true story."
The inspiration for the song came from a friend who was facing a low place in his life, questioning eight years of hard-earned sobriety. When Worley got the call from his friend, who had already made his way to the bar, Worley said to him, "'Look, you can act like this is the end of the world, or you can walk out this door with me. If you don't see somebody that's in worse shape than you, I'll pay your house payment for the rest of the year.'"
Fortunately, Worley was able to talk his friend out of the bar and back home to his wife and children. "I'd been there, and everybody I know back where I come from has been there at one time or another," he said. "I wasn't hard on him. I just told him the truth."
"That's just how it is," he went on, "and I've had to do that myself. Everybody has a tendency to get down in the mouth sometimes."
On the album, Worley lightens the mood with several of his new upbeat songs. Having co-written a majority of the tracks, Worley takes his listeners on an up-beat musical journey through his "Honkytonk Life." He addresses the issues of wealth in tongue-in-cheek "Nothing but Money" and encourages listeners to let loose under the influence of his feel-good tunes like "Tequila on Ice" and "Best of Both Worlds."
"That's what people need," he said. "They need to whoop it up for a little while and forget about all the tough times we're going through.
"You have to be willing to stick it out against all odds. That's what American people do. It's like this economy and the hard times we're going through. It'll only last so long. We don't give up. We'll be fine."