The Dead Tongues – Unsung Passage (album review)

by Woody on May 31, 2018

Photo Credit: Shervin Lainez

The Dead Tongues is the moniker of Asheville’s Rya Gustafson and he’s part of that North Carolina collective. He’s played with and opened for Hiss Golden Messenger and Phil Cool. And like the music from both of those artists, The Dead Tongues’ music has an inherent, yet subtle, spirituality about it.

Gustafson is a bit of a nomad and free spirit. He’s very comfortable on the road, observing the daily travails of like going around him. “When I’m traveling, it’s like walking into these different windows. I’m a witness, with my mouth shut,” Gustafson says. “The people you meet, the way the landscape speaks to you, how a desert is different than a mountain: It has the potential to bring out something you didn’t know was there.”

The ten tracks that encompass Unsung Passage are a wonderful blend of folky twang. Almost every tune feels like the lyrics could be an old fella spinning a yarn at the end of a bar or sitting on a porch talking to no one in particular. The music backing these tales is a wonderful tapestry of guitars, strings, banjos, etc. Its as if someone blended TBT, Horse Feathers and Ryan Bingham and out poured The Dead Tongues. While the album never veers from Americana, the variety within that genre that Gustafson uses to get his tales across is quite lovely.

This album is a grower. Play it multiple times. Put it away for a couple of weeks. Come back again. That’s what I did and I find myself enjoying it more and more with each listen.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

The Dead Tongues are here

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