Carnero Vaquero

Ian Tyson

Stony Plain Records, 2015

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


At the age of 81, most people are quietly retired, sitting in an easy chair and sipping margaritas. Not so with folk icon Ian Tyson, who continues to play around 40 concerts a year, manages his cattle ranch south of Calgary, and is about to release his 17my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 th album.

Tyson’s career began in 1959 as a part of the folk duo Ian & Tyson, which was an important part of the 1960s folk revival movement. They moved to Nashville in the early 1970s and experimented with a primitive folk/rock sound. Since their breakup in 1975, Tyson has gravitated back to his native Canada and has settled into a country/folk niche with an emphasis on country and Western stories and music.

The title of his new album, Carnero Vaquero, is Spanish for ram and cowboy. It sets the tone for his stories of the Canadian west. Rotating between original compositions and covers, he presents a laidback album of authentic and soulful tunes.

Tyson includes a bright remake of the early 1960s Ian & Sylvia song, “Darcy Farrow.” The imagery of “Wolves No Longer Sing” transports the listener to a different place and time. “Doney Gal” is an old traditional folk song that he updates to his Western style.

He adds a number of new compositions to the mix. “Will James,” “Cottonwood Canyon,” and “Jughound Ronnie” all represents the thoughts and feelings of a man approaching the winter of his life.

Tyson’s voice has a world weary feel, which suits his music well. It has miraculously recovered from when it was severely damaged in an accident in 2007. The album was recorded in an old stone building on his ranch and has a simple quality that is timeless.

Ian Tyson keeps rolling along producing a brand of music that has resonated for a half century. Carnero Vaquero is the latest chapter in his stellar career.

Rating: B

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