Review: Unspoken Tradition – Myths We Tell Our Young

Unspoken Tradition hails from the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina, and is one of those “new” bands that has been around a while. Myths We Tell Our Young (2019) follows their debut Simple Little Town (2013) and Miles Between (2015)

As a band, Unspoken Tradition has set themselves the sometimes difficult task of straddling the bluegrass boundary between traditional music and newgrass, and the band has succeeded admirably. There’s no question about this being bluegrass, it draws from the deep wells of traditional bluegrass but manages to capture the high energy spirit of newgrass – mostly in the styling of their original tunes and their well considered covers. It’s also readily apparent in the modern arrangements of their well thought out harmonies.

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“Nothing But Sky”

Myths We Tell Our Young opens with “Nothing But Sky,” which is a great introduction to this hard driving band featuring fine song writing and playing, and this song especially highlights Zane McGinnis on banjo – you’re going to hear a lot of him on this album. This song also has a line about a “a whole new day arising,” and you can’t help thinking its band’s way of saying that they may be “new” but you’d better look out!

Two songs later they hit you with “Force of Nature” and that title alone is a great indication of the power of the bands playing. They seamlessly trade leads between all the bands members: the aforementioned Zane McGinnis on banjo, Audie McGinnis on guitar and vocals, Ty Gilpin on mandolin and vocals, Tim Gardener on fiddle and vocals, and Sav Sankaran on bass and vocals. Notice a lot of vocals listed in there? In addition to all the powerful playing it’s pretty obvious they aren’t slacking off in the vocals department.

“Force of Nature” is followed by “Dark Side of the Mountain” which proves they can do a dark murder ballad as well as anybody out there. I’m going to avoid giving you a song by song description of the album, it’s really something you can only appreciate by hearing, and you’ll be happy you gave the band a good listen.

The album closes out with “The Mountains Win Again,” with an opening groove that first makes you think of Sam Bush, only to find out that it’s a glorious (and beautiful!) cover of Blues Traveler. Not quite the first group you might think of to pick for a bluegrass cover, but it says a lot for the band that they do indeed claim this song for their own.

One of my favorite things about bluegrass is attending festivals and seeing the range of ages in the audience, there is really something in the music that everyone can love, and this is one band that can truly span generations. So if you’re looking for a band that has everything, keep your eyes (and ears!) on this one!

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