Sylvia Tyson,
River Road & Other Stories
(Outside, 2000)

Someone once came up to her and asked, "Didn't you used to be Sylvia Tyson?" Well, after listening to River Road & Other Stories, I can tell you that she still is.

Here are 18 tracks of wonderful storytelling in the form of ballads and songs that speak to the heart of everyone who hears them. There is a mixture of old favorites and one new (to me at least). I greatly enjoyed listening again and again to this recorded version of Tyson's one-woman stage show of the same name. This adds a sense of connectedness to an otherwise strange gathering of songs of varying styles.

Among the new and amazing songs on this CD is "Woman's Work," which while unfamiliar in lyrics is quite well known by heart by every woman over 30. And then there is "Regine," the sad wistfulness of a plain girl wishing to be more glamourous. "Denim Blue Eyes" is the tale of young love that is romantic and idealistic. It is an older and more mature voice that begs "Bill, Won't You Please Take Me Home."

"The Same Old Thing" may be just that, but it sounds lively and longing in the boredom of small-town America. Other tracks that are new to me are "Big Spotlight," "Last Call," "Poor Old Rose," "Spring of '45," "Hazel's First Ride," "Donegal Tavern" and "I'm Leaving Elaine." Capping off this grand adventure through the life of Every Woman are two of her best-known and greatest hits: "River Road" and "You Were on My Mind." They bring to a satisfying conclusion this musical adventure and leave the listener upbeat and glad to have been taken along for the ride.

The accompanying booklet is a treasure in itself. Tyson is a Canadian jewel and has been justly awarded many trophies and accolades for her writing and singing talents. When one listens to this CD, one will know why. She still is Sylvia Tyson, and we are the better for it.

- Rambles
written by Debbie Gayle Rose
published 3 July 2004