CD Review: Unspoken Tradition – Imaginary Lines

Unspoken Tradition hails from central and western North Carolina, with Audie McGinnis on guitar and vocals, Ty Gilpin on mandolin and vocals, Sav Sankaran on bass and vocals, Tim Gardener on fiddle and vocals. and Zane McGinnis on banjo. Do you get the sense that the band is playing from a position of vocal strength? 🙂

Unspoken Tradition describe themselves as “newgrass”, but there is SO much more going on here! On first listen their sound strikes you as Colorado bluegrass meets the Asheville stringband scene, and this is true, but then you realize the deep roots of bluegrass that they’re mining. And while I love all forms of bluegrass (and the associated jam bands), sometimes that Colorado sound gets lost in the thin atmosphere of the high altitude. Unspoken Tradition has their feet firmly on the ground.

Imaginary Lines follows Myths We Tell Our Young, Miles Between, and Simple Little Town.

“Crooked Jack” is a hard-times mining song with a lilt that would be happily at home in an Irish pub, and it does make an fantastic overview of the album, the superb interplay between the instruments layered with the high harmonies will tell you about all the good things to come.

“Soldiers Of Dust” and “The Old Swinging Bridge” somehow remind me of the Gibson Brothers, maybe it’s the banjo, or maybe the great harmonies, but as often as the Gibson Brothers have played for the HVBA you should know what high praise this is.

“California” invokes “three chords and the simple truth” in a bluegrass blues tune, and bluegrass blues simple doesn’t get any better.

The theme of “Bounty Hunter” certainly brings to mind Marty Robbins and Johnny Cash’s western saga songs , a theme you don’t hear much anymore but one that U.T. does great justice. Audie shines on this song with his vocals and guitar, as a non-musician I’m not sure how you make a guitar sound “dark” but Audie sure nails it!

Also as a non-musician it’s always hard for me to describe the instrumentation for any particular band or album, but Unspoken Tradition stands out. All the bluegrass breaks are here, but there’s no flash and no filler, everything fits together perfectly. The band sounds like they are supremely comfortable playing together, and that’s something that should never be taken for granted! And not to be left out is fantastic song writing, yet another piece of the Unspoken Tradition puzzle that fits in perfectly.

If an album can be described as “comfortable” then this is the one I find myself
coming back to it again and again, you’ll be quite happy to give Imaginary Lines a listen!

Mountain Home Music Company

Mark Hudson

Mark Hudson is a long time local HVBA member and music lover who, unfortunately, had to move away. He misses the local scene but will look for you at Greyfox!

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