By Terry Field
True North Records
American songwriter Tom Russell routinely explores and celebrates the cultural context of folk music and its roots. In Play One More Russell focuses on the work of the iconic Canadian folk duo of the 1960s and early 1970s – Ian and Sylvia. Calgarians know Alberta based Ian Tyson well for his country influenced cowboy songs, and Sylvia Tyson for her work with the folk group Quartette. Old folkies will recall the records the Tysons recorded together during the era when folk music became both more introspective and more concerned with social issues and change.
Russell has known the Tyson’s for several decades and has co-authored and produced songs and albums with them. Play One More features 12 tunes drawn from Ian and Sylvia’s body of work, which Russell sings with the support of Cindy Church, herself a longtime collaborator of Sylvia Tyson. It also includes two previously unreleased Ian and Sylvia demo tracks that serve to remind us how they sounded some 40 years ago.
Missing from the disc are Ian and Sylvia’s better-known songs such as “Four Strong Winds,” “You Were Always On My Mind” and “Someday Soon.” As a true music ethnographer Russell has instead chosen songs covering an eclectic range of themes that have had the most impact on him personally. There’s an ode to the beauty of the prairies, laments of love lost, and even a rodeo song, but at the same time there are a number of evocative and edgier story-driven songs reminiscent of Russell’s own recent work.
With its guitar only arrangements Play One More is designed to allow Ian and Sylvia’s lyrics to take centre stage again for older music lovers, and to introduce others to the timeless songs of a generation past.Canadian Folk, folk, Play One More, Record Review, Tom Russell, True North Records