IAN TYSON: CANADA’S LEGENDARY SONGWRITER FACES LOVE, LOSS AND A CHANGING, DISAPPERING WEST
Carnero Vaquero is Tyson’s 13th album for Stony Plain — a stunning collection of new songs
Ian Tyson is 81 now. And he’s still going strong. Still touring. Still running the Tyson ranch south of Calgary. Still watching the West as he’s seen it change — and not always for the better. Still writing about love, horses, and the country and sky he loves. And he’s still facing the future with a mixture of optimism and resignation.
You can hear all of that in Carnero Vaquero, his 13th album for Edmonton-based roots music label Stony Plain. These are ten songs that ring as true as the western sky and the foothills of the Rockies.
Recorded in the Stone House, just down the gravel road from his ranch house, there’s an intimacy and warmth that draws you into his life… It’s the place where Tyson writes his songs, practices guitar, and reads his library of western histories and the early books of Will James.
Your eighties, Tyson tells people, is not a time for sissies. Age is one thing, but the changing West is another, and since Tyson moved to Alberta forty years ago he’s seen way more changes than he’s comfortable with. But the sky and the mountains keep him there, and his alternating regrets and optimism spark his songwriting.
Carnero Vaquero is a special Ian Tyson record. There are half a dozen new songs — as good and better as dozens crafted in the Stone House. There are also two co-writes with a younger, alternative songwriter
Tyson’s smooth relaxed voice has been part of the musical landscape since the early 60s, when — with his then-wife Sylvia Tyson — he conquered the folk boom of the day. Hits kept coming — “Four Strong Winds,” “Someday Soon,” “Summer Wages” and more. A move to Alberta, a hiatus from the music business, and a reluctant return that earned his first platinum record for Cowboyography led to a storied career as North America’s preeminent western singer.
Tyson doesn’t like looking backwards at five decades of a career that’s earned him countless awards, the Order of Canada, and a devoted following. He rarely talks about what he calls “the Ian and Sylvia days,” pointing to a four-decade “solo” career.
Now recovered from a torn and damaged voice that drastically changed his vocal sound in 2008, he’s singing with the strength and range of his earlier years.
He has concerts booked well into next year, and he continues to supervise his working ranch; this is a man for whom “the cowboy life” is an ever-present reality.
And Ian Tyson stares at the future with clear eyes and a weather-worn face. Bring it on, he seems to say.
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