Ian & Sylvia - Wildwood Kin - Hackensaw Boys

Our roots music column begins this time out with a listen to a 2-CD set from '60s folk stars Ian & Sylvia that's filled with never-before released music.

Ian & Sylvia - The Lost Tapes
Ian Tyson and Sylvia Fricker are still actively performing as solo artists today (the pair divorced and stopped performing together in 1975) but this collection harkens back to their heyday with live material recorded in the early 1970s. The collection is broken into two sets, the first of which is labeled Classics, and that is exactly what it contains; readings of "Keep on the Sunnyside" and "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," traditional cuts like "Four Rode By," "Nancy Whiskey" and "Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies" are included as are Tyson's classic "Summer Wages" and "Four Strong Winds." The second disc, simply titled Previously Unreleased, is made up entirely of covers and finds the duo embracing the country music sounds of the day. Highlights include "After the Fire is Gone," the oft-covered "Heartaches by the Number" and a couple of Buck Owens numbers, "Crying Time" and "Together Again." Jimmie Rodgers, Rick Nelson, Tom Paxton and Lefty Frizzell are also interpreted, and Sylvia also sings a duet of "Silver Threads and Golden Needles" with Lucille Starr. The Lost Tapes is a nice flashback to a bygone era and an unexpected boon for Ian & Sylvia fans. Tyson likes to let loose with a cowboy whoop at the conclusion of many of the songs and no doubt many fans will do some hootin' and hollerin' of their own over this collection.

Wildwood Kin - (Self-titled)
Here's a very impressive sophomore effort from this English three-piece that consists of Meg Loney and her cousins Emillie and Beth Key. Listeners will hear hints of Kate Bush ("Headed for the Water"), Fleetwood Mac/Stevie Nicks ("Time Has Come"), Joni Mitchell ("Beauty in Your Brokenness") as well as nods to the traditional sounds of ancient Britain. Great influences all and delivered with sweet harmonies as sublime as a carefree afternoon.

Hackensaw Boys - A Fireproof House of Sunshine
This long-running string band fronted by vocalist and guitarist David Sickmen serves up a fine five-song EP here, with all of the songs also being penned by Sickmen. Sickmen has a voice that oozes honesty and he sometimes sounds like Tom Petty, with cuts like "Late Night Kitchen" and "Pass Unloving Eyes" drawing from the same well as John Prine's latest work. The band utilizes fiddle, mandolin and banjo too, most notably on closing cut "You Act like My Friend," a spirited hoedown that'll get the barn dance started.

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