On Ruth Ann’s first album, Hello It's Me, the Toronto vocalist displays the confidence of a musical veteran. Not only has she chosen to record in Nashville itself but she has enlisted some of country’s top musicians for support. Ruth Ann also has talent of her own: Hello It's Me is an engaging assortment of romantic songs about hurt and happiness. On You Seen One You Seen 'Em All her bitter vocals are steeped in emotional pain. But the album’s triumph is Night Like Tonight. Guitarist Don Felder’s sprightly picking and the rich vocal harmonies of J.D. Souther and Timothy B. Schmit give her showpiece a polished, joyous air. Not all Ruth Ann’s material is as well suited to her effusive singing style, but she has made a remarkably assured debut.
ONE MORE TRY FOR LOVE
Ronnie Milsap (RCA)
Ronnie Milsap, one of Nashville’s most successful singers, gives country purists cause to squirm in their rawhide boots. His fondness for polished pop ballads has gained him a mainstream audience, and One More Try for Love is a syrupy collection of ingratiating love songs set to a slick, city sound. I Might Have Said and I'll Take Care of You are bland pronouncements over synthesizer and lush orchestral strings. Milsap’s velvety tenor turns tough on She Loves My Car, the album’s token rocker, but his treatment is unconvincing. Only on Prisoner of the Highway, a restless trucker’s lament, does he convey any of country music’s prickly spirit. Like soggy cereal, Milsap’s music has lost its snap and crackle.
IAN TYSON Ian Tyson
After a five-year absence from recording, Ian Tyson marked an artistic turning point with Old Corrals & Sagebrush. An accomplished Canadian songwriter, Tyson had returned from his sabbatical as a rancher with the most acclaimed album of his long musical career. Critics hailed Sagebrush as a treasure trove of classic cowboy music, both traditional and original. As a fol-
low-up to that brilliant recording Tyson’s new release covers more of the same ground, with American rather than Canadian settings. It opens with the raucous western swing of Jack and Woody Guthrie’s Oklahoma Hills. On his sweet rendition of the old herding song Colorado Trail, Tyson’s resonant
voice warms the wail of Jeff Bradshaw’s steel guitar and David Wilkie’s graceful mandolin. Several new compositions will stand with the best of Tyson’s work: the tragic tale of a fatal dispute (Murder Steer), Hot Summer Tears and the touching tribute to a cowboy historian, Will James. Whether singing dusty trail songs or fresh western tunes, Tyson’s respect for the musical tradition that Nashville has seemingly forgotten runs deep. Ian Tyson puts the western kick back into country music, and its author has undeniably found his true sound.
The story you want is part of the Maclean’s Archives. To access it, log in here or sign up for your free 30-day trial.
Experience anything and everything Maclean's has ever published — over 3,500 issues and 150,000 articles, images and advertisements — since 1905. Browse on your own, or explore our curated collections and timely recommendations.WATCH THIS VIDEO for highlights of everything the Maclean's Archives has to offer.