All The Good ‘Uns by Ian Tyson

July 24, 2013



Ian Tyson will turn 80 in September and is considered one of the grand old men of the 1960s folk revival movement. Recording with his wife under the name Ian & Sylvia, they released a dozen albums during the 1960s and early 1970s and are considered early proponents of the country folk movement.

As a solo artist, beginning in 1973, he has consistently issued albums of quality music with lyrics that paint pictures. He has remained a folk singer who has a strong connection to the land and environment. He has now returned with his second compilation release, this one titled All the Good ’Uns Vol. 2. It is the follow-up to 1996’s Vol. 1, which brings his career up to date by gathering 19 tracks from his last five studio albums. So if you have lost track of his music and career, or just want a sample of what he has been up to for the past 14 years, then this is an album for you.

His songs have a comfortable feel to them. Whether singing about the cowboy life of the west or delving into his personal feelings about his life’s journey, he is grounded in the folk traditions he helped establish. The music is sparse at times but it is enough to support his always entertaining stories.

His voice changes from track to track. He injured his vocal chords a number of years ago and adjusted his delivery accordingly. Now fully recovered from an operation, he has regained much of his lost range, so be prepared for some differences in approach throughout the album.

Overall it always comes back to the songwriting for Ian Tyson. Songs such as “Land of Shining Mountains,” “Little High Plains Town,” “Fiddler Must Be Paid,” and “Charles Goodnight’s Grave” all have a wistful appeal as they deal with a vanishing time and the aging process.

His latest release brings another part of his long career to a fitting close. At nearly 80, he continues to work on his ranch and tour regularly and will no doubt remain active in the studio. All The Good ’Uns Vol. 2 is an album of stories and songs as he pauses to embark upon the next decade of his life.

Four Strong Winds 45 by Ian & Sylvia

March 19, 2013

four strong winds ian & sylvia

Ian Tyson and Sylvia (Fricker) Tyson were a Canadian folk duo whose career, (1959-1975), lasted longer than their marriage, (1964-1975).

They were an important part of the 1960s folk revival movement. They recorded 13 albums during their career, which sold millions of copies, but they never had a chart single in the United States. In their native Canada their cover of the Gordon Lightfoot song “Early Morning Rain” topped the Singles Chart and their own “You Were On My Mind” reached the top five.

Their most famous composition has been recorded by dozens of artists and is most associated today with Neil Young. “Four Strong Winds” was the title of their 1964 album and a single released in the United States. While it had no chart action, it remains the definitive versions of this classic folk song.

Raven Singer by Ian Tyson

May 15, 2012

Ian Tyson, born 1933 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, is now one of the grand old men of the 1960s folk movement. He and his former wife, Sylvia Fricker, were an important duo in the revival of folk music during the turbulent 1960s (as Ian & Sylvia). Their time together, 1959-1975, produced a body of work that was among the best of the era. Their subsequent move to Nashville resulted in an early form of country rock.

At the age of 78, Tyson shows no signs of slowing down as he has remained active in the studio and on the road. Every few years he emerges from his Calgary farm with a new album of well-created and thoughtful material. Raven Singer is his fourth album since 2000, in addition to a two-DVD concert video and a successful autobiography.

The new album immediately takes the listener to a familiar place in the world of Ian Tyson. The singer-songwriter’s self-penned songs reflect his incisive views of the world around him; his love of the West hovers above his music and helps make the stories real and ultimately entertaining and charming. Also, though his distinctive voice shows the wear and tear of the miles traveled, it is still serviceable and fits his stories well.

”Under African Skies” and “Back To Baja” are travelogues of his latest adventures. “Blueberry Susan” is a nostalgic tribute to the first guitarist he ever encountered, plus a farewell to some old friends, Red Shea, Monte Dunn, and David Rea, who passed away recently.

He visits his western roots with “Charles Goodnight’s Grave,” which actually rocks a little, and on “Saddle Bronc Girl.” Elsewhere, he reached back two decades for a moving re-working of his song, “The Circle Is Through.”

Ian Tyson is a durable survivor and his new album should be a delight for his fan base and folk aficionados alike. Raven Singer is a fine addition to his large and impressive body of work.

Article first published as Music Review: Ian Tyson – Raven Singer on Blogcritics.