Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Dead Tongues -- Unsung Passage

If, like me, you have a deep yearning for Glossary, I have some comfort to offer you. The Dead Tongues, helmed by Ryan Gustafson, build soothing songs that take on loneliness, love, heartbreak, and mortality much like a certain band. "Take on" is too aggressive a term, though -- rather, the Dead Tongues have a zen-like approach to their subject matter, allowing the emotions to be deeply felt but also letting them pass on. Gustafson has played with Hiss Golden Messenger and Phil Cook, so there's a good chance you've heard him make music before. Unsung Passage is a lush soundscape that incorporates the new wave of psych-country while maintaining strong traditional currents.

Peaceful doesn't mean content, though. Gustafson sure can sell a song, as we hear on the plaintive "The Broken Side of People Everywhere." Like his colleague MC Taylor, Gustafson builds textures that celebrate traditional Southern music while using them as a jumping-off point into deeply layered arrangements and lyrics. Gustafson's meditations on the brevity of life seem to fixate on the idea of living life to the fullest while you have it. They're stark reminders of the fate that awaits us all, but it doesn't seem like something to avoid the way Gustafson lays it out. The album is a leisurely exploration of the Southern Gothic, one that pauses to bask in sunlight, however fleeting. 

The Dead Tongues -- Official, Facebook, Purchase

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