Album Review of
At The End of The Day

Written by Joe Ross
February 2, 2024 - 1:27pm EST
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Six decades have passed since the 1962 record debut of Canadian folk duo Ian & Sylvia, and the duo hit their stride in 1964 with “Four Strong Winds.” At song circles everywhere, we still sing their hits like “Someday Soon” and “You Were on My Mind.”  The two singers went their separate ways in the mid-1970s, with Ian becoming a rancher in southern Alberta before returning to music-making in the 1980s and releasing about a dozen solo albums. Born in 1933, Ian passed in 2022.

Born in Chatham, Ontario in 1940, Sylvia Fricker Tyson was a self-taught artist influenced by her mother, a music teacher, organist and choir director. Over the years, Sylvia also released about a dozen solo albums ranging from “Women's World” in 1975 to “Joyner's Dream (The Kingsfold Suite)” in 2011. “Gypsy Cadillac” in the mid-1990s was a standout that covered her familiar themes of love, dreams, optimism and encouragement with depth, conviction and maturity.

Saying that At the End of the Day is going to be her last album, Sylvia Tyson’s project seems to bring her music full circle. With all original material (some co-written with Shirley Eikhard, Cindy Church, Joan Besen or Chris Whiteley), Tyson serves up a set that is sophisticated and poignant, reflective and straightforward. Songwriting is a craft, and you’ll hear compelling melodies and enchanting lyrics in arrangements that are more Americana than folk or country. I’m a sucker for good songs about love, and “Sweet Agony,” “Cynical Little Love Song,” “Generous Heart” and “Long Chain of Love” give us some unique perspectives.

Most radio-friendly, “I Never Got Over You,” “No Crowd, No Show” and “At the End of the Day” provide some witty lines and catchy hooks. “Leaves in the Storm” has a prim and proper sound while the spirited “Now Tell Me That You've Got The Blues” provides a lively jump into that genre. The only thing I missed on this project was some backup vocals, but Tyson gives the project a strong acoustic emphasis with masterful instrumentalists playing guitar, piano, violin, mandolin, accordion, organ, bass and drums. Assisting musicians are David DiRenzo (drums), Charles James (bass), Jason Fowler (guitar), John Sheard (piano), Drew Jurecka (violin, mandolin), Denis Keldie and Mark Lalama (accordion, organ).

Whether her songs look back at her own life, or provide guidance to younger folks for their own adventurous journeys ahead, Sylvia Tyson has much to offer. There’s certainly a part of me that misses her soft alto and autoharp blended with a man’s tenor vocals in the 60s. On the other hand, her contemporary vibe, inspired by decades of life experiences, is also inspiring to the next generation. The instrumental “Janet’s Garden” closes the set with an effervescent melody that gave me visions of nature’s changes through the years, with each season bringing an inherent beauty all its own.  (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)