Unspoken Tradition’s ‘Imaginary Lines’ Overcomes The Barriers That Separate Us

Western North Carolina Bluegrass outfit Unspoken Tradition have released new album Imaginary Lines, a follow up to their 2019 album Myths We Tell Our Young, and shows the band taking “new risks” in exploring new sounds and songs.

The band’s latest single, “Bounty Hunter,” tells of “good vs. evil, hubris, guilt, survival, and reciprocity”, says guitarist and vocalist Audie McGinnis:

In bluegrass, there are lots of prison songs. There are some, but not as many, fugitive songs. Most of those focus on the chase, and not the ‘showdown’. This song is cool because it details the battle between the narrator and his would be captor, and never describes the crime committed (which I assume he’s guilty of, since there’s talk of reaping what you sow). This song emphasizes the present obstacle…escaping just to live another day.  There’s something poignant in that.  I also love the ego of the bounty hunter, and he meets his fate in a humbling way as well. It’s a great songwriter’s song, and I feel like we’ve put our touch on it to adopt it as a great bluegrass song.

The band is made up of SankaranAudie McGinnis, brother Zane McGinnis (banjo), mandolinist Ty Gilpin and Tim Gardner (fiddle, vocals). 

Gilpin adds on the album’s themes:

Imaginary Lines tells a story of overcoming the barriers that have kept people from understanding the struggles their neighbors go through. The song ‘Carolina and Tennessee’ sings of boundaries as ‘imaginary lines’ that keep us separated from each other. It’s a metaphor for our relationships at a time when those relationships are more important than ever — and it’s also a useful metaphor for the music of this collection. The intent was for us to push our own boundaries, and not be constrained by what a bluegrass band is supposed to sound like. All that really matters are songs that people can universally relate to.

Unspoken Tradition focuses on pursuing new avenues in Bluegrass. Their material is mostly original and reflects the ever-changing culture of Western and Central North Carolina where they call home.