As the Beatles once sang, "I Should Have Known Better."
Last month I wrote about Don Henley's forthcoming album, Cass County, due out in September. I had hopes that Henley, unlike the other 22 bazillion rockers who suddenly decide they have smelled enough manure to sing like a hillbilly (to paraphrase the great quote from Hank Williams), would actually stay true to his roots: if not country roots, then the country-rock roots that the Eagles learned from people like Gram Parsons and Poco.
Henley's first single from the album, titled "Take a Picture of This," has been released. It starts off almost identically to his 1989 hit "The Heart of the Matter," and musically carries that theme throughout the song.
And, of course, it's not country. It's soft rock.
Oh, it'll pass as "country," given everything else they laughingly call "country music" today. However, if you're expecting country music from a man who claims the album is what he was raised on, you're going to be sadly disappointed (not to mention by what he does to "When I Stop Dreaming"). This sounds nothing like the country music of the 50's and 60's that Henley (who'll turn 68 on Wednesday) would have heard growing up. His country music would've been Lefty Frizzell, Hank Williams, Faron Young, Buck Owens, and Webb Pierce. Even the 60's "Nashville sound" era that orchestrated singers such as Jim Reeves, Dottie West, Glen Campbell, and Patsy Cline would've been more "country" than this is.
No, Henley is going for the typical 2010's definition of "country music," not the country music he grew up with nor even the "country-rock" he actually sang in the 70's in the Eagles with songs such as "Saturday Night" (from Desperado), "Best of My Love" (from On the Border), or "Hollywood Waltz" (from One of These Nights). It has the feel of the ballads from his last two solo albums (as well as a riff or 20 borrowed from things such as "Busy Being Fabulous" off the Eagles' Long Road Out of Eden album).
Bottom line: Henley, like all the others, is looking to make a commercial killing, not a country statement.