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The Dead Tongues


  1. 1.
    Won't Be Long
  2. 2.
    The Giver
  3. 3.
    Road to Heaven
  4. 4.
    Ebb and Flow
  5. 5.
    Pale November Dew
Ryan Gustafson wrote these songs during quick spans scattered between various tours of the last two years—as a supporting guitarist for his kindred North Carolina spirits Hiss Golden Messenger and Phil Cook’s Guitarheels and as the leader of his own long-evolving vehicle for a beautifully fractured vision of folk, country, blues, and cosmic American rock, The Dead Tongues.
Gustafson’s third and best album under that name, Unsung Passage is a first-person reckoning with the things Gustafson, a chronically peripatetic adventurer, has seen enough to sing about. There are meditations on mortality and devotion (the flute-laced dream “My Other/Little Birdie”), on money and temporality (the banjo trot “The Giver”), and on impermanence and acceptance (the achingly gorgeous “Pale November Dew.”). “When I’m traveling, it’s like walking into these different windows…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.” These ten songs are snapshots in time–glimpses at the sorts of emotional upheavals and adjustments we’re all forced to face as we move from day to day and, as in Gustafson’s way, place to place.


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