Don Henley: Cass County
Don Henley has returned with Cass County, his first album in 15 years. The legendary founding member of the Eagles recently delivered his fifth studio effort after a lengthy absence from his solo career. Titled after the Linden, Texas county of his childhood homestead, the revered country-rock icon charmingly duets with Dolly Parton (“When I Stop Dreaming”), Merle Haggard (“The Cost of Living”), and Martina McBride (“That Old Flame”), without sounding forced or contrived. Predominantly recorded in Nashville and Dallas over a 7-year span, Cass County leans decidedly more towards country than rock while featuring stellar guest appearances by Alison Krauss, Vince Gill, and Jamey Johnson, as well as recurrent collaborators Trisha Yearwood and Stevie Nicks.
“The majority [of the album] was done right here in Nashville and I can truthfully say that I enjoyed making this record more than any record I’ve made in my career,” Henley recently boasted.
An exquisite cover of Tift Merritt’s “Bramble Rose,” featuring the unlikely pairing of Miranda Lambert and Mick Jagger, sets the tone for this country-pop flavored collection. Henley’s instantly recognizable voice is a bit more seasoned, but the 68-year-old rock star sounds as if he was born to perform this new material. After all, Cass County isn’t too far a leap from his tenure with the Eagles nor his own solo work, wherein Henley has recurrently and effectively blurred the lines of pop, rock, and country throughout his five decade career.
Other album highlights include the sardonic “No Thank You,” the woeful “Waiting Tables,” and the alluring “Take a Picture of This,” all of which are greatly stamped with Henley’s distinctive vocal style and songwriting acumen. However, it can’t go without pointing out the atrocity of relegating “It Doesn’t Matter To The Sun” (featuring Stevie Nicks) to bonus track status (available exclusively on Target’s deluxe edition), as this poignant duet definitely deserves its place among the album’s proper track list. This glaringly obvious oversight, plus Henley’s cover of Jackson Browne’s “Here Come Those Tears Again,” make it all the more prudent to obtain a physical copy of the aforementioned 18 track disc.
Despite the lengthy time period since Henley’s previous solo set, 2000’s Inside Job, Cass County managed to sell an impressive 87,000 copies in its first week of release, as well as landing atop Billboard‘s Top Country Albums chart, making this his first number one solo LP.