Many a Monday morning this past year I have crammed into packed train carriages bleary eyed, choking on thick London fumes and praying for an escape as I pass picturesque postcard locations on my journey to work. My escape came in the form of Noah Gundersen every single time, now a routine and subconscious choice I make when I need to be whisked away from the bustle of city life.
The 26 year old singer songwriter from Seattle took my breath away the first time I heard him, I played Jesus Jesus before questioning everything I thought I knew; a one way conversation with God made up of frustrating rhetorical questions never been answered. Noah Gundersen made me reflect.
Released on the 21st August, Gundersen’s latest album Carry The Ghost follows on from last year’s February album Ledges (also Noah’s debut as a solo artist.) When I heard there was to be another album I could barely contain my excitement. Carry The Ghost is on loop as I type; I doubt it will come off any time soon.
Slow Dancer was posted online back in May and is also the opening track to the album. A slow ballad with religious references tells the tale of a scorned woman and troubled relationship. The piano intro and pause just before you hear the guitar almost makes it the perfect track for a movie, mellow vocals convincing you of every word he sings. Track 2 Halo (Disappear/Reappear) is 3 minutes and 55 seconds of Jeff Buckley sounding bliss, ‘All the excuses, all the cop outs, take it like a man and shut your mouth.’ You may find yourself hearing Noah Gundersen lyrics and being a bit lost, his songs aren’t always glaringly obvious, instead I believe that he makes you feel his lyrics. Selfish Art much like the rest of the album is recorded with nothing but a voice and guitar. Making up the middle section of this album is Show Me The Light, The Difference, Silver Bracelet and I Need A Woman. Each song on Carry The Ghost flows into the next with no interruption or major tempo changes.
One of the stand out tracks comes in the form of Jealous Love which is reminiscent of Ledges from Noah’s previous album, Violins, female harmonies and a gravelly tone … it’s an easy one to catch yourself travelling to far away places in your mind to. Empty From The Start and Blossom follow in similar fashion, Noah never falters and is consistent one song after another. I got to Topless Dancer, track 11 and had to replay it, it’s not the first time Noah has sang about controversial/thought provoking subjects;he takes taboo subjects and turns them into heartwarming melodies. Song 12 Heartbreaker seems to play in slow motion with darker chords but is sang in a higher pitch, it’s gentle and Noah’s voice sounds a bit more fragile until he gets to the bridge. By then end of the song, and for the first time ever Gundersen really lets loose and he begins to sound desperate as the drums crash, ‘Heartbreaker, name taker, heartbreaker, ladies man’ cries the singer songwriter, I remember those lyrics and the emotion in his voice and believing that whoever he was singing about must have been in the room with him as he tried to explain how he felt. Closing off the album is Planted Seeds, it’s short and sweet but still has that dream like quality about it just like every other Noah Gundersen song.
Carry The Ghost is littered with religious imagery, philosophical questions, deep inner thoughts and emotions and he expresses a longing desire to find the depths of himself; what makes Noah Gundersen, Noah Gundersen. Singing about topics that are rarely spoken about, Noah peels back the social stigmas and shows us that these can be beautiful things if you translate them well enough. More than his use of language though, this man sounds pure. No tricks or over the top vocal runs, just a clear sounding soul filled voice that holds the ability to transport you anywhere at any given time. Musicians like Noah Gundersen are few and far inbetween, on his second album and still at a young age it is abundantly clear already that he possesses something special that makes him so very similar to the likes of Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley and Bob Dylan. I prompt every single one of you to explore the musical depths of a legend in the making, Noah Gundersen.
Carry The Ghost is available to purchase on iTunes now.