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The Dead Tongues Emerge With 'Unsung Passage'

A photo of Ryan Gustafson with a guitar.
Shervin Lainez
Ryan Gustafson leads the band The Dead Tongues.

When he's not on the road playing in Hiss Golden Messenger or Phil Cook's Guitarheels, Ryan Gustafson lives in the mountains near Asheville. But he often hits the road on his own, taking in the sights and sounds of other cultures and other places. As he travels, he writes down some of his thoughts and puts them to song. The result is his third album as The Dead Tongues. The band will play from its new album in Carrboro this weekend.

Unsung Passage opens with the track, “Won’t Be Long.” Gustafson sings, "don't know which side of the fight I'm on.” The lyric is an interesting admission in a time when it seems like everyone is choosing sides and digging in.

He told WUNC, “This song is just kinda wrote from the perspective of just the… struggle of trying to survive and work your way around life and then you have all this craziness around it. And I think, coming to some extent, trying to understand people that I don’t agree with.”

Unsung Passage incorporates some congas and flute into The Dead Tongues’ musical palette. There's also a string section and harmonium on the record. 

“I was trying to make it as simple as possible, and so that had a lot to do with what could just be played in a room by people, you know, as opposed to going really overboard with things,” he said, adding that the flute conjures the “mystical” quality of life in the mountains.

Ryan will be joined by a bunch of his friends Saturday night when he celebrates the release of the record with a show at Cat's Cradle.

Eric Hodge hosts WUNC’s broadcast of Morning Edition, and files reports for the North Carolina news segments of the broadcast. He started at the station in 2004 doing fill-in work on weekends and All Things Considered.
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