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.