Now comes Don Henry's Epic Debut, "Wild In The Backyard" - a
startlingly original record that makes most other singer/songwriter
material seem like half a loaf. That's because Henry serves up right-
brain whimsy on par with WHITE ALBUM era McCartney, John
Sebastian, and John Prine. Yet, his songs are also touching and
tender. So if the very term "singer/songwriter" makes you think of
somber people doing ecodirges, here's a breath of fresh air. Don
Henry's songs are little movies that are every bit as funny-and moving
-as something like "RAISING ARIZONA"
Henry comes across as a first cousin to Randy Newman, writing hot-
wired songs about born-again whores, interfaith marriages, and the
homeless taking over the White House. This is funny and thought
provoking stuff, all of it good.
Critics Choice! Should make an impact at AC and smart college
Philadelphia Daily News
It would be correct but superficial to call Don Henry an expert
craftsman. His most obvious strength is an ability to spin engaging
tales that are heavy on plot rather than abstract emotions or vague
personal impressions. His characters - misplaced farm boys, romantic
prima donnas, aging bikers or infidels - are vivid and alive, and have
engrossing stories to tell, with unexpected twists, palpable irony and
cleansing moments of revelation if not always redemption.
CMJ New Music Report
...Jam-packed with good music and stories that are heartfelt and
perceptive with a generous helping of Henry's broad sense of
humor...Although mostly acoustic, some of the tunes are given a pop
feel reminiscent of Randy Newman. Henry has the delightful ability to
paint portraits of characters that are larger than life and at the same
[AT MY PLACE, SANTA MONICA, CA] Except for a few hecklers who
jokingly mixed him up with Don Henley (which must happen all the
time), the crowd was won over by this one guy and his guitar, and
anyone this talented at being funny and touching at the same time
certainly won't stay unknown for long. Long may he write.
The Gavin Report
What you get on "Wild in the Backyard" are slanted and tilted views of
American daily life. I've heard Don compared to Randy Newman, and
damned if that ain't valid. Like Newman, Don Henry fiddles with
themes, chords and satire in a way that's both funny and moving.
Henry's world has [an] off-kilter spin. This transplanted Californian
has a different vision. He's an evolutionary descendant of the
singer/songwriters who came of age in the '70's.
Portland Williamette Week
Although he has been called "the Randy Newman of the 90's", singer-
songwriter Don Henry is definitely an original. Along with Ashley
Cleveland and John Hiatt, Henry enjoys the distinction of being a
tunesmith who shares an area code and a love of well-crafted songs
with Nashville, but not much more.
Henry's album gives full expression to the wonderfully untamed
animals of his imagination. Here's hoping they breed like rabbits.
(Performance: Wacky genious)
Don Henry may be the next Randy Newman, a piercingly insightful
songwriter who uses irony like a scalpel. From musings on the cult of
leadership to bittersweet love songs and sheer whimsy, Henry is a
winner on every track."
Neobilly's answer to Harry Chapin.
Peformance: A! He writes wry song-stories with richly etched
characters peopling them and memorable melodies propelling them.
The influences of such songmen as Steve Goodman, John Prine and
especially Randy Newman are keen in his work.
The Birmingham News
...[one of the] best 10 of the year so far. Henry is a songwriter who
spears pretention with a sharp tongue, but he also is a student of the
Beatles and other quality songsmiths. His material not only has
something to say, it says it well.
(***) For a co-composer of the moving hit, "Where've You Been", Don
Henry wields a wicked sense of humor.
(***1/2) It's not easy to see how the same person that wrote the
remorsefully insightful "Heart Cut in Half" (or "Where've You Been"
which has deservedly won just about every award...) could also pen
the semi-novelty protest song "Into A Mall". But once you've
reconciled the two, you've seen into this singer/songwriter's soul.