Ty Herndon enjoyed a breakthrough in 1995 with his debut album What Mattered Most and his number 1 single of the same name. His career was almost derailed when he was arrested for drug possession and allegedly exposing himself to an undercover police officer. That incident saw speculation about Herndon’s sexuality follow him for years and when his career started to stall in the early 00’s he struggled with drug addiction, and entered rehab for the second time. In 2014 in an interview with People magazine, Herndon came out as a gay man. The singer is now putting his past troubles behind him as he releases House on Fire, his first album since coming out.
House on Fire is the follow-up to Herndon’s 2013 album Lies I Told Myself. The album is the first time Herndon has been able to fully embrace who he is, especially in an industry that is notoriously tricky to navigate for gay artists. The Southern states, where Country music is most popular, don’t tend to be open or embracing about sexuality and Herndon is one of a small number of openly gay artists releasing music in the genre.
The album opens on a positive note with That Kind of Night, a song that embraces more modern production taking Herndon out of his comfort zone and away from his usual traditional leanings. It’s an optimistic moment that makes way for more confessional and personal moments on the record. Title track House on Fire tackles the singer’s personal issues as he describes his past self as ‘a prisoner of everything’. It’s a moment of self-realisation as Herndon recounts the destructive nature of his past behaviour and how it almost cost him his life. He also sings about a religious upbringing that made him feel like being anything other than straight was a bad thing.
One of the standout moments on the record comes on Fighter. The ballad finds Herndon battling his demons, coming out the other end stronger. It’s a defiant middle-finger to his detractors and critics, as well as his self-doubt. Lyrically the song is incredibly powerful and Herndon’s vocal is passionate and emotive.
Elsewhere on the record Sweet Way To Go is a tale of your heart ruling your head, Just Friends is a love song with Herndon wanting to take a friendship to the next level, and If You finds the singer telling an ex in no uncertain terms that they won’t be getting back together any time soon. A highlight comes on the stunning Nothing Left To Break where Herndon vows to use his strength to fall back on during hard times.
House on Fire is a moving body of work that sits up there with the best of Herndon’s work. He may not get the recognition he deserves from the Country music industry but he’ll certainly garner support among the LGBT community and those who want to see change in the genre. In a time when there are few openly gay artists in Country music, Herndon is a true trailblazer, an inspiration and a singer-songwriter that should still be at the top of the charts.
Track Listing: 1. That Kind of Night 2. Sweet Way To Go 3. Just Friends 4. All Night Tonight 5. Blame It on the Mustang 6. House on Fire 7. Stick With What I Know 8. Go 9. If You 10. Nothing Left To Break 11. World I’m Living In 12. Fighter 13. Music Record Company: BFD Release Date: 11th November 2016