This self-titled effort is album number three and a half for Darryl Worley, if you count his last release, 2003's Have You Forgotten?, largely cobbled together from his first two albums to cash in on the jingoistic single of the same name (which in turn was made to cash in on the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq) and featuring only six new songs, as half an album. Actually, Worley might have been better advised to wait a little longer before putting out a new disc, but then he and his advisors may have wanted to reposition him quickly from his flag-waving persona of 2003; the press release for this album claims it "completely reinvents him as an artist." If so, it reinvents him as a man somewhat humbled by world events, but still interested in them. In "Awful Beautiful Life," the single released long in advance of the album, he mentions in the song's bridge a cousin serving in Iraq (mispronounced "EYE-rack," of course), adding "We're all aware that he may never make it back." "Wake Up America" (the title should have a comma after "Up") sounds like it's going to be a political diatribe from the title, but it turns out to be a lament about drug addiction, an interesting cause for a singer whose songs are sopping with alcohol. More like it is the character of Earl, the protagonist of "I Love Her, She Hates Me," whose reply to every question, whether about Wall Street or football, is, "I love her, she hates me, I drink." Worley and his 18 fellow songwriters are steeped in standard country music subject matter: drinking, cheating, drinking, redemption, drinking, murder, drinking, being Southern, and drinking. They describe these subjects in lyrics that are filled with near and not-so-near rhymes (in one song, the word "drink" is rhymed with "tank," "gain," "game," "thing," and "lane") and littered with clichés, and Worley's backup musicians play typical country music with rock rhythms, a fiddle and a steel guitar never out of the mix for long. Worley has a serviceable but basically anonymous low tenor. This is nearly generic Nashville product, but Worley performs it with conviction, and that earns him his moment in the sun.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann