Ian Tyson | Songs from the Gravel Road
Stony Plain Records
There’s a lot of hype around ‘The Legendary’ Ian Tyson’s ‘Cowboy’ album, 11 new originals backed by some elite Toronto Jazzmen. Produced by the ‘legendary’ Danny Greenspoon, the album sounds hugely overproduced with acoustic and electric guitars often sharing the background with keyboards, pedal steel, and sometimes bluesy trumpet or sax. The songs are clichés crocheted together into a quilt of ‘Big Alberta Sky’, ‘Land of Shining Mountains’, and the ‘land of the long roads.’ Tyson’s considerable guitar is not heard except on the two bonus tracks, and his vocal delivery features a talking style cum kinda scratchy singing that gives me a sad feeling.

The Tyson of old high quality performance peeks out on the traditional folksong “One Morning in May” where Don Reed’s fiddle and Kevin Breit’s mandolin help strike just the right note. Cindy Church’s vocal helps a lot on the cowboy reggae “Range Delivery”, and everything works well on “Road to Los Cruces”.

The bonus tracks are cowboy country tunes sung with the accompaniment of Tyson’s road companions, Gord (Matthews and Maxwell) and they work, especially the simple sad song about a yellow dog that’s ‘gone’ into memory.

If you’re a diehard Tyson fan, like the gang that packed Hugh’s Room the other night, go ahead and get this album. Me, I’ll just sit here in my rocking chair playing Ian and Sylvia’s Greatest Hits.

Report by Stanley Fefferman

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