The Gift is a perfect title for this tribute in homage to the vast musical riches bestowed by cowboy poet/western troubadour Ian Tyson. A Canadian folk hero, Mr. Tyson has been delivering the goods for nearly 50 years, while his treasured position in Canadian roots circles puts him alongside Gordon Lightfoot and Neil Young: the legendary trio that have become Canada’s most highly-respected musical ambassadors to the world..
Tyson’s gift as a chronicler of rural and prairie Canadiana are such that only Gordon Lightfoot’s repertoire can come close to matching it. Not surprisingly, Lightfoot makes a guest appearance with "Red Velvet". It would have been nice if Young had dropped by but it wasn’t in the cards. The cast, however, is simply flawless, and they infuse the 15 tracks with a special kind of love, warmth, and respect.
There have been many wonderful interpreters of Tyson’s vital catalogue but none seem more authentic than Amos Garrett, a longtime friend and musical partners. They go way back together. Garrett’s well-worn voice is a perfect fit for "Some Kind Of Fool, while those gruff whiskey-soaked chops of David Rea on the title track are spot-on. Some other exceptional interpreters along for the enjoyable ride include Corb Lund ("M C Horses"), Tom Russell of Blackie & The Rodeo Kings ("Old Cheyenne"), folk icon Ramblin’ Jack Elliott ("Will James), and The Good Brothers ("Summer Wages").
There are two contributions from the fairer sex with Jennifer Warnes and Cindy Church celebrating "Blue Mountains Of Mexico" and "Range Delivery" respectively. They really highlight Tyson’s exceptional melodies that often get overlooked in the onrush of Tyson’s image-rich lyrics. "You’re Not Alone Anymore" which features Stewart MacDougall and "What Does She See" which has Chris Hillman are knockouts, and they also exemplify Tyson’s facility at crafting memorable ballads that speak to the heart. BTW, there are also the obligatory renditions of Tyson’s two most well-knows nuggets from back in the 60’s when he was partnered with Sylvia. "Four Strong Winds" (Blue Rodeo) and "Someday Soon" (Buddy Cage) put Tyson at the top tier of the cutting edge of the folk movement----and he’s never looked back..
This is a great compilation from start to finish, and should be welcomed by Tyson fans worldwide. And for those somewhat unfamiliar with his repertoire, this may just be the perfect conduit for comprehending the breadth and talent of Ian Tyson---and his terrific gifts..