Daryl Mosley is probably best known to bluegrass fans for his tenure as vocalist and bass player for The Farm Hands, but his songwriting is what has drawn the notice of artists and writers from across the music industry. In addition to earning several SPBGMA awards for Song of the Year and Songwriter of the Year while with the Farm Hands, Mosley’s originals have been featured on albums by numerous country, bluegrass, and Gospel artists. His recent Pinecastle album, The Secret of Life, provides a further showcase for Mosley’s songs, highlighting 11 numbers from his pen.
Opening track A Few Years Ago kicks things off with bright fiddle and mandolin from Adam Haynes and Danny Roberts, respectively. It’s found a welcome audience with radio programmers, and recently cracked the Top 10 of Bluegrass Today’s weekly chart. It’s a pleasant stroll through memories of youth, with a more experienced man looking back on a life before regrets. The Secret of Life also offers life advice, told from the perspective of a respected small-town barber. It’s a nice, thoughtful number, with quite a few common sense pieces of wisdom for a simple, well-lived life.
It Never Gets Old takes a stripped-down approach, with soft guitar and dobro accompaniment through most of the song. It’s a quiet love song, again appreciating the simple things in life that sometimes become the most important: “The edge of your smile cuts deep in my soul, just looking at you never gets old.” A bit grassier than some of the other songs on the album, which lean toward the singer-songwriter sound, is another love song, I’d Write You. Mosley imagines himself as a variety of artists, all with the goal of his expressing his feelings to the woman he loves.
On the flip side of love songs is the uptempo Heartaches Moving In, cowritten with Danny Roberts. It’s a straightforward “my woman done left me” number, with a catchy chorus and enjoyable banjo from Aaron McDaris. The other cowrite on the album is the bluesy Do What the Good Book Says, a fun Gospel number penned with Rick Lang. Mosley’s smooth lead vocals work well with this style of song, and it seems like one that would be very enjoyable live.
Other highlights include two songs that find connections between the singer’s earthly father and his heavenly one. Hands in Wood is a heartfelt ode to a hard-working father who spent his life using the things he built from wood to help others. It makes a clever connection to the Biblical carpenter in the last verse. All the Way Home finds the singer looking to his dad for protection as a young child walking through dark woods, then turning toward Jesus for peace and security when he’s older. Perhaps the album’s best song is the well-written A Piece at a Time, which recalls Thirty Years of Farming in its story of a farmer who can only watch as “the only life he’s ever known is leaving in pickups someone else owns.”
Overall, The Secret of Life has a calm, singer-songwriter feel that works well with the slice of life songs that comprise most of the album. Mosley does a fine job at capturing the memories and emotions of everyday people in songs that may seem simple at first listen but are filled with clever turns of phrase and strong imagery. Though most of the songs aren’t necessarily hardcore bluegrass, he’s joined by a strong crew of musicians. In addition to Roberts, Haynes, and McDaris, the album’s band includes Tony Wray (guitar), Michael Stockton (dobro), and Mosley himself on bass, as well as three fine harmony vocalists in Irene Kelley, Jaelee Roberts, and Jeanette Williams. If you’re looking for good original songs that don’t rely on overused bluegrass images, Mosley is your man.
For more information on Daryl Mosley, visit his website. His new album is available from several online retailers.