Ian Tyson - Yellowhead To Yellowstone And Other Love Stories
These Cowboy tunes, with an innocence bordering on precious, are delivered by Ian Tyson in a craggy voice that still does not suggest authenticity. I'm sure of his sincerity, and his past probably gives some of these songs street cred. Tyson's songs have over the years been recorded by some heavyweights, including Dylan and Johnny Cash, but you wouldn't know it listening to this, his 14th studio release. Too often, the tracks on "Yellowhead to Yellowstone and other Love Stories" play like they were written with a "how to write cowboy songs" manual. The love of a horse more loyal than a woman? Check. A woman with a name that suggests her personality and trials? Check. The freedom that comes from just takin' off and roaming? Check. See "My Cherry Coloured Rose," "Lioness," and "Fiddler Must Be Paid." Only finale, "Love Never Comes at All" has an intimate power that could not have been gained from a "Lonesome Dove" episode.
Granted, there really aren't many themes in cowboy music, but what has given them eternal life has been their ability to touch on universal themes, reflecting the larger picture in a series of small, lonely events. Tyson's contribution is admirable, but not, finally, convincing. He is also Canadian, which makes his tales of the American West seem secondhand. Surely that big beautiful land that he comes from holds a few similar stories?
"Yellowhead to Yellowstone and other Love Stories" then, is a pleasant enough record, and Tyson's sincerity is more often than not appealing rather than a detriment. But there is something just a bit off, thin, about the songs that leave you hungry for more, though not necessarily from him.
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