Quintessential baby-boomer Don Henley has a tough row to hoe in a fragmented musical marketplace dominated by hip-hop, trip-hop, rap, and baby bimbos. And yet the marketing muscle Warner Bros. is putting behind Henley is well-placed, and he's sure to appeal to his contemporaries -- people who came of age in the '70s and '80s, when the Eagles ruled with their carefully crafted, highly textured suburban cowboy rock. Inside Job, Henley's first CD in 11 years, reflects -- movingly, at times -- the former Eagle's concerns: his recently developed family (the guaranteed-hit power ballad "Taking You Home" and "My Thanksgiving"); his work on behalf of environmental concerns such as the Walden Woods Project, clean water legislation in California, and various efforts in California and his native Texas ("Goodbye to a River"); his disdain for corporate greed ("Workin' It," a sharp putdown of the dotcom era); and his hard-won self-knowledge ("Everything Is Different Now").
The humor-free Henley co-produced Inside Job with ex-Heartbreaker Stan Lynch. Various veterans of the L.A. studio scene help out, such as the Waters family, Randy Newman, Jai Winding, and Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench. The record sounds good; "Nobody Else in the World but You" effectively replicates "All She Wants to Do Is Dance," and the ballads resonate, be they about family or the environment. Henley is now in his early 50s, so the tour he's mounting matters big time. As he did with 1989's End of the Innocence, he's likely to tour each time a new single comes out, so expect one this year and, perhaps, in 2002 and 2003.