Review: Ty Herndon Comes Full Circle with ‘House on Fire’

Review: Ty Herndon Comes Full Circle with ‘House on Fire’

It’s been a memorable two years for country singer Ty Herndon. He has joined only a handful of country artists who have been brave enough to publicly come out as gay — a secret he hid through the height of his career in the early and mid-1990s. He also hit No. 1 with his debut single, “What Mattered Most,” and charted over a dozen songs during that decade. Eventually, he disappeared from the airwaves and battled with some personal issues that landed him in drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

Now, with his past behind him and his own personal truth in the open, Herndon has crafted an album that truly signals his return to country music.

House on Fire is Herndon’s eighth career studio album, which reclaims the magic that was sprinkled throughout his first three records. Overall, the project has a more polished and obvious Top 40 production behind it. That isn’t a complaint, though. Herndon’s pure yet twangy voice has always been the main element that has infused the country sound into every song.

From the first note of opening track “That Kind of Night,” listeners are taken through an uplifting and purely joyful mix of love songs, biting anthems and unapologetic goodbyes. It’s one of his strongest collections of records since 1998’s Big Hopes, which produced three Top 5 tracks.

Of course, country music has changed a lot since 1998 — and so has Herndon. But the themes ingrained in these songs are likely to connect just as strongly with country fans as his earlier works. That’s likely in part a result of Herndon’s efforts to shy away from specifically referencing males or females in the songs. Although he happens to be a gay man, Herndon’s music is for everyone.

“What’s different about this record is that it’s gender-free,” Herndon told Wide Open Country earlier this year. “If you’re a diehard country fan who’s married woman with nine kids in Des Moines, or if you’re an LGBT person in Chicago, you’re going to hear your life in this record.”

Instead of focusing on gender, Herndon chooses to dial into the situations we’ve all been in. From the rush and fear of taking the next step in “Just Friends,” to the satisfaction of telling off an awful ex in “If You,” Herndon becomes the narrator of our lives.

It’s hard to pinpoint a handful of standout tracks, because like any great album, this one is meant to be heard all the way through.

by Lorie Liebig for Wide Open Country


Ty Herndon’s HOUSE ON FIRE  |  REVIEW by Suzanne Alexander

Ty Herndon’s HOUSE ON FIRE  |  REVIEW by Suzanne Alexander

HOUSE ON FIRE  |  Ty Herndon

Maybe it was the sun shining down and the 75 degree weather which was unusual for that time of year, but the moment I started “play” on Ty Herndon’s new album “House On Fire”, I was instantly inspired and energized. The importance of track listing has never been more perfectly exemplified than here, with the first track kicking off with Herndon’s voice a cappella, telling us “Hey it’s a take it easy slow ride, everything is all right” in the song “That Kind Of Night” and you actually do feel that everything will be all right, as Herndon’s voice takes us through a rollercoaster of emotions.

As an artist, with over 2 decades in country music, Herndon exudes a confidence like never before with these 12 new songs. It is clear, he is in the driver’s seat as cowriter of 9 of the songs and co-producer of this entire album.

There is an unapologetic attitude from a man that is on course for the top, and has no time for game playing as he rids himself of bad relationships, with songs like “Go” singing “this stupid goodbye, can’t come too soon” and the very funny play on words, “If You”, which is as it sounds. Here Herndon sings “I’m on the radio, so I can’t say it, so I’ll abbreviate it…”, which is exactly where these songs should be, on the radio. Herndon is an artist who delivers 12 songs that can rival any other song that is on a stations top 20 playlist with a strength and easiness that radio programmers and fans have come to expect.

With the album “House On Fire” Herndon shows a deeper, greater strength from a man who has been there and back and has lived to tell about it. A confidence that comes through from an artist who not only knows exactly who he is, but exactly what he wants as he sings “you’re gonna be the death of me” in his song “Sweet, Sweet Way To Go” and he seems just fine with that.

And there’s no denying Herndon’s ease in taking the romantic lead. In “Just Friends”, Herndon’s vocal exudes a delicate breathiness that delivers a yearning for a forbidden love.

The stand out for me that encapsulates the emotion of not only these 12 songs collectively, but an artist who has clearly gone through a metamorphosis of sorts, is the title track, “House On Fire”. Again, Herndon is so spot on, and he knows exactly what he’s doing as he lets this song caption this project. It is clear that he has moved on from who he once was and there is a relief that comes, as that old life goes up in flames:

“I poured the gas, I lit the match,
didn’t grab a damn thing on my way out
but I stopped and watched as the flames grew higher to my house on fire”.

Ty Herndon is an artist who has not only claimed his place in country music, but has earned it, literally, through blood, sweat and tears. And he is an artist who has often relied heavily on his faith. As he wraps up this album, you can’t help but cheer him on, with a song called “Fighter”, that for me, evoked images of him climbing to the top of Everest or crossing that finish line to take home the gold or an artist who once again, finds his rightful place at number one. Herndon sings

“just when you think I can’t take no more,
I’ll come back stronger than I was before,
cause when I’m down in the dirt, I’m gonna rise up even higher, than I was before, I was born a survivor…a fighter”.

You believe him because you know it’s true.

—Suzanne Alexander

Great American Country
Kickin’ It With Kix

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