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Music Review: Ian Tyson – Raven Singer

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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.

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