It’s a song called Lookout Mountain, from a pair of western North Carolina songwriters, about a landmark not far from where they, and the band, call home. The song tells of a man who had lived on the mountain but is displaced when landowners purchase the property his family was living on to build a resort.
Unspoken Tradition bassist and singer, Sav Sankaran, brought the song to the group when he became a member, composed by Charles Humphrey III of Songs From The Road Band and Phil Barker of Town Mountain.
Sav says that the lyrics appealed to him right away when he first heard it.
“Lookout Mountain first came to me as I searched for material to record back in 2010 and 2011. I was immediately struck by the themes of gentrification, loss of place, and searching for a place to call ‘home.’ Growing up in an immigrant family, that search for a sense of place and grief for a home left behind felt very relatable to me. I was excited to give this song new life and brought it to the band when I joined.”
Guitarist Audie McGinnis says he had the same reaction when Sav shared it with the rest of the group.
“Some songs just hit you hard, as this one did me. The lyrics are almost haunting, and there are so many musical nuances that trigger those emotions we typically keep buried deep; this song accessed all of that for me. When Sav officially joined the group back in 2019, I was excited to integrate some of his catalog — this song included — into our live shows, and I’m thrilled that we’ve recorded it.”
Along with Sav and Audie, the band is completed by Ty Gilpin on mandolin, Tim Gardner on fiddle, and Zane McGinnis on banjo. They give Lookout Mountain an appropriately somber and mournful reading, set off by Sankaran’s distinctive tenor voice.
McGinnis further stated that he feels that this song shows a different angle for the band.
“With other single releases since our last album, I’ve talked about how I hoped this record showed a new side of Unspoken Tradition. I think Lookout Mountain does a really good job of showcasing some of the maturity and depth of the band’s content choices, as well as dimensionality in our musical style. Sav’s voice just fits this song so well, and in preparing for this song, I was delighted to see all of us dig deep to craft every element of this song in a way that resonated with the message and truly did the song justice.”
Have a listen…