Totally Biased Fan Review: Don Henley- Cass County (Deluxe)

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When you hear that a Don Henley album is coming out, you know that it will be quality. In this star studded album, named after the place in North East Texas where Don comes from, Don is the leading man, and he deserves to be.

The Eagles, along with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, The Bee Gees and U2 form a unique club of probably the best bands that the world has ever seen….or heard. Most of these bands have had members that have released their own music as well.

Don doesn’t fall far from the tree, or nest, as it is in his case. Don is so much a part of the fabric of The Eagles, that his songs have that Eagles quality and it is visa versa….i.e. The Eagles have that Don Henley quality.

Many of the Eagles songs are soft country rock. The fact that Don is from Texas leaves no arguments. He’s country.

On this album, he sings songs with Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Martina McBride and Miranda Lambert. Lambert and Henley sing the first track with an up and coming country music singer named Mick Jagger. Three quite extraordinary back up singers are on this album, you may have heard of them: Trisha Yearwood, Alison Krauss and Lucinda Williams.

So just by reading all of this, you are probably curious and you are probably sold already, but what I have written is only the beginning.

If you love the Eagles, you will love this. If you love the pure country sound, then you will love this. If you keep reading you will bless this album.

Bramble Rose with Miranda Lambert and Mick Jagger: This song is written by Tift Merritt, who told us that the trio had recorded one of her songs when she supported Mary Chapin Carpenter in Sydney recently. This song couldn’t be more country if it tried. They all sing separately and then harmonise. Strangely enough, Mick has sounded country on a few early Stones tracks. He probably sounds more country than some so-called country artists today.

The Cost of Living with Merle Haggard: co-written with Stan Lynch. Tailor made to sing with Merle. A song about real life…..just the facts.

No, Thank You: another one co-written with Stan Lynch. Stan was the original drummer in Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (another pretty cool band!). He also produced this album. It is a very drum beat influenced song.

Waiting Tables: co-written with Steuart Smith and Timothy B Schmidt (fellow Eagle). It has a very Eagles’ sound and sentiment….think the feel of Peaceful, Easy Feeling; Take it Easy, etc. It could be a companion piece for Beccy Cole’s The Waitress.

Take a picture of this: another co-write with Stan Lynch. I think all of us, a certain age look back on our youth and think similarly. Some people just live in the past though and forget about the now. You can lose people that way.

Too Far Gone, a country classic by Billy Sherrill. This song has been sung by some legends. Waylon Jennings, Dottie West, Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello and The Attractions, Tammy Wynette and many others. Beautifully sung and played by Mr Henley.

That Old Flame with Martina McBride: yet another co-write with Stan Lynch. I am a little surprised, I thought when I saw the title and the co-singer that this would have been a lot slower. The Lynch influence gives it a steady drum beat to what you would have called a power ballad back in the 90’s.

The Brand New Tennessee Waltz written by the late Jesse Winchester, obviously a bit of a take on the famous Tennessee Waltz. Beautiful song.

Words can break your heart co-write with Steuart Smith and Stan Lynch. Probably the most beautiful original song on the album. Words are very special. Steuart has been doing some work with the Eagles too and Michelle Branch.

When I stop dreamin’ by the Louvin Brothers…..an absolute musical treat with Dolly Parton. Such a wonderful song sung by two legends. If this doesn’t shivers down your spine and almost shed a tear then you are made of ice. Standing ovation.

Praying for Rain: another co-write with Stan Lynch. Anyone who has lived on the land will have lived every word of this song. I never knock the rain. When you have lived through drought and fire, you bless water. A flood is better than either of those two. It brings more good than bad. A song for all seasons.

Too Much Pride: co-written with Stan Lynch and Steuart Smith. Channelling Ray Charles….not a bad bloke to channel. The piano is very cool.

She sang Hymns out of tune: a Jesse Lee Kincaid song from 1966. Mean fiddle on this one. I thought that it may have been a song about me by the title! A wonderfully sad song. I think Ms Krauss features on this one.

Train in the Distance: co-write with Stan Lynch. I am a sucker for a train song. An easy train rhythm and beautiful bv’s. Awesome song….but you knew that I was going to say that.

A Younger Man: another co write with Stan and Steuart. This is an amazing song. I think the more that I play it, the more that I like it. It will make an old man cry.

Where I am now: another co-write with Stan. A very rocky song, a good way to end an album.

Legends like Don give me faith in a revival of what is best about American Country music. He mixes it up but he doesn’t betray the past Gods and includes a bunch of true country legends and future country legends. He honours what is best about country music but he also makes it accessible to those who don’t normally listen to it…..or who think that they aren’t listening to country music.

This is a must for your collection. It will be a classic.

 

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