While this is an album of brisk bluegrass straight out of the gate, Unspoken Tradition (led by singer-songwriter Ty Gilpin) also showcases dynamism and range, from the tender "Time Marches On" to the bluesy, spooky "Blood and Bone." The band seems most at home on offerings like the title track. That fiddle- and steel guitar-studded song talks about small town living and earnest dreams — working-class, everyman themes that run throughout the 10 tracks. "Mr. President" and "Mine Shaft Blues" both emphasize the plight of hard-working people who risk their own safety for modest livelihoods. "Rebel's Shame" and "Bitter Haze" both stand out for their ever-so-slightly funky, syncopated intros. Don't worry, traditionalists: both songs also quickly relax into more familiar, bass-driven and finger-picking-fueled bluegrass melodies. "Stickshifts and Safetybelts" is a standout for its tongue-in-cheek turn on romance — "I need you here with me, not way over in a bucket seat." Amid a lot of stellar but often serious songwriting, the spirit of fun is a great reward in an already rewarding record.
Unspoken Tradition holds an album release party at The Bywater on Friday, Nov. 8. 9 p.m., $5.