Folk Great Ian Tyson to Release Raven Singer on May 29

Canada's Ian Tyson celebrates fifty years of recording with his new album, Raven Singer, out May 29 on Stony Plain Records.

Tyson's first record, Ian & Sylvia (with Sylvia Fricker, who would become Sylvia Tyson) was released on Vanguard records in 1962. Together, the duo released 12 studio albums before their 1975 divorce and, since then, Tyson has released 14 solo studio albums including Raven Singer.

The new album comes on the heels of the announcement that his 1996 “best-of” compilation, All the Good ’Uns, has earned a gold record in Canada , indicating sales of more than 50,000 copies.

Tyson, always remembered for classic songs such as Four Strong Winds, Navajo Rug, Someday Soon and Summer Wages, recorded Raven Singer over a three-year period, as he wrote the new songs.

Tyson’s songs always have the ring of truth, and his travels have provided the background for two of the 10 remarkable songs, Under African Skies and Back to Baja. The first is partly travelogue and partly a story of “running from the memories” of a broken relationship. The latter has a distinctly southern Californian feel and is a song that Jimmy Buffett would feel at home singing.

Other songs that maintain his reputation as one of Canada’s most distinctive writers include Blueberry Susan, which offers a tribute to the first guitarist he ever heard, and some of the players, Red Shea, Monte Dunn and David Rea, whom he worked with and who have passed away since Tyson’s last album. Charles Goodnight’s Grave and Saddle Bronc Girl are warmly-observed songs of the real West, not the romanticized version shared by weekend cowboys and Nashville “new country” singers. One of the most moving songs on the CD is a new version of The Circle is Through, which he originally recorded almost 20 years ago with Nashville singer Suzy Bogguss.

Tyson himself says the record is a collection of songs built around the road back from the much-publicized loss of his voice in 2006. “I think I’ve learned how to make my ‘new voice’ work,” he says, and the new album seems to bear out his assertion. Tyson’s voice is less “grainy” that it was on his last album, Yellowhead to Yellowstone, but it carries an emotional punch that suits the new songs he has written.

The new album’s Dali-esque cover is by Calgary teacher Paul Rasporich; it depicts a raven’s skull. The title of the CD followed a sweat lodge ceremony at the Nakoda First Nation, near Banff Alberta, when Tyson’s name — Ka-ree-a-hiatha (Raven that Sings) — was chosen.

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