In 2006, while performing at an outdoor country music festival, Ian Tyson damaged his vocal cords. Raven Singer CD music A long bout with the flu followed and he lost much of his voice. He considered retiring, but singing is in his blood, so he learned how to sing with his new, limited range. Raven Singer is the second album he’s made since using his new voice, and, at times, every one of his 78 years is evident in his range and delivery. But he still writes great songs and his backing trio, along with a few guests including superstar mandolin player Sam Bush, still lays down crackling country-folk tracks full of energy. “Charles Goodnight’s Grave” is a tribute to the man who was probably the best-known cattle rancher in Texas and the inventor of the chuck wagon. It rides a loping beat and introduces Tyson’s brittle, but still passionate, vocal style. On “Rio Colorado” Tyson rides a new horse trough a desolate landscape and contemplates mortality with his familiar understated poetry. Tyson’s always had a way with love songs and a couple of tracks here rank up there with his best. The countrified, subtly sexy “Saddle Bronc Girl” tips its hat to a tough-as-nails woman with a will of her own. “Winterkill” uses images of frost and desolation to describe the end of a relationship, while the gently cynical “Under African Skies” explores the emotional pain of unrequited love that lingers long after the relationship is over. The album closes with “The Yellow Dress,” a blue country waltz that lets the players show off their understated chops.
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