Canada’s legendary songwriter releases Raven Singer, his first album of new songs in four years. That Ian Tyson, at 78, leads two busy, vigorous lives is remarkable enough. Yes, there’s the ranch south of Calgary, in the foothills of the Rockies, with fences to mend, quarter horses to train, cattle to move, land to conserve. And, yes, there are concert stages — from Elko, Nevada to Billings, Montana, from San Francisco to Toronto to New York to Winnipeg and Edmonton and Los Angles and — in any given year — another 30 or 40 cities.
That would seem enough for any one man, but in the first dozen years of the 21st century, he’s released four albums, filmed a music documentary for Canada’s Bravo! television channel (which has earned two international film and television awards), and issued This is My Sky, a two-DVD concert video. Two years ago, he penned a surprising autobiography, The Long Trail: My Life in the West, which continues as a best-seller— it’s sold close to 30,000, copies so far. And he also collaborated with the author of a major book on his early career as half of Canada’s first folk superstar duo, Ian & Sylvia.
And now he’s released his 14th album for his long-time record label, Edmonton-based Stony Plain Records. Raven Singer is a collection of new songs, all but one written over the last three years, that offer yet another clear-eyed example of the singer’s world view, rooted in his life in the West but informed by his travels.
In 2012, Ian Tyson is closing in on nearly six decades of performing. Almost six decades of making recordings of the songs he now writes in the 100-year-old stone building a mile down the gravel road from his ranch house. Six decades of singing stories that tell the real truth about horses and men, love sustained and relationships broken, heroes and heroines and the land and the weather and the Prairie sky.