Daryl Mosley

The Secret of Life – 2020 (Pinecastle)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Daryl Mosley

Bluegrass singer/songwriter Daryl Mosley's "The Secret of Life" is an entertaining mix of nostalgia, religion and a touch of right wing politics. With the sentimental "In a Country Town," Mosley reflects on his lifelong hometown of Waverly, Tenn. as providing a mythical Mayberryesque existence ("We don't have to lock all the doors in a country town") while also throwing out a more contemporary reference to politically motivated culture wars ("They'll wish you 'Merry Christmas' not 'Happy Holidays'").

The poignant "A Piece at a Time" (previously recorded by Mosley with his '90s bluegrass band New Tradition) is the sad tale of a farmer being forced by an economic downturn to sell his family farm ("There's a bargain on heirlooms and sale on his life/As this farmer's heart breaks a piece at a time"). Mosley salutes his father with another revisited New Tradition song "Hands in Wood" ("I've seen him build a cradle where his grandchild would lay/He built the church an alter and would not accept their pay") as well as the moving ballad "All the Way Home" composed shortly after his father's death ("Just follow me, cause I know the way/And you would be lost on your own").

The strongest tune instrumentally is "Heartache's Moving In" in which Mosely's band members Danny Roberts (mandolin/co-producer with Mosley), Adam Hayes (fiddle), Michael Stockton (Dobro), Aaron McDaris (banjo) and Tony Wray (guitar) get a chance to shine. The haunting ballad "The Deal" is Mosley's modern day reimagining of the legendary Robert Johnson's deal with the devil ("I have pills to lift your spirits, I put status in your drink/And cable news to tell you how to vote and how to think").

With solid compositions, stellar musicianship and Mosley's pleasant vocals reminiscent of Vince Gill, "The Secret of Life" is an impressive solo debut.