Last year, folk-rock master Noah Gundersen released his sophomore album, Carry The Ghost, which saw him venturing more into the rock side of his repertoire. He does keep the folk sound prominent on his first album Ledges, with the addition of a fuller band sound and playing electric instead of acoustic guitar.
The album begins with the main single “Slow Dancer”, a brooding jam that builds over time, with piano at its core. The listener gets a feel for how the record is going to progress lyrically with this song, focusing on love and heartbreak.
The rock sound comes in fast with “Halo (Disappear/Reappear)”. The anger towards lost love is expressed through lines such as “It’s easy to die here, it’s easier still just to fall apart. All the excuses, all the cop-outs, take it like a man and shut your mouth.” Noah’s voice is raspy in each section, and you hear the pain in his voice with each line, especially later on yells the last part.
The acoustic melancholy returns with “Selfish Art”, a song about being a singer and the troubles that come with it. You can hear the tiredness and hopelessness in his voice. The use of just an acoustic guitar gives the song the feel of being sung by an old man, close to the end of his career, despite being written and sung by a 26 year old.
“Show Me The Light” picks up a bit more, with a jazz feel to the drums. Noah sings about how much he loves someone from his past. The end of the song is instrumental, showing off the full band’s sound.
The drum heavy “The Difference” is a upbeat jam, showcasing his sister Abby’s violin skills. She also lends her voice as back-up, making a great complimentary range of voice to Noah’s. This blends into the next track “Silver Bracelet”, a great acoustic ballad. It’s performed by Noah on expertly played acoustic guitar and Abby on violin.
“I Need A Woman” brings in a Southern blues feel, with piano, acoustic guitar, echoing drums and deep, wavering electric guitar. The chorus is a beautiful blend of everyone’s voices, creating a community within the band, bringing this song, and the main vocalist, away from isolation.
The album goes a bit more country with “Jealous Love”, having more of a cheery feel compared to the rest of the other songs. It’s about Noah having the greatest love, even through all the flaws they both have.
This love is continued into the slower ballad “Empty From The Start”. The one major difference is that now the lyrics express the inevitability of death and the resulting end of love. This is an acoustic track of only guitar and piano, with Abby’s vocals.
“Blossom” brings the album out of the quiet dip of the last few tracks, with a more upbeat drum beat and a lighter feel to the instruments. The lyrics are about loving each other through everything, no matter what.
Noah gets philosophical in the acoustic song “Topless Dancer”, comparing losing something vital to the loss of a loved one. You can hear the pain in his voice, but there’s hopefulness near the end, with working on himself to better treat his future loves.
“Heartbreaker” takes a darker turn, with pain in Noah’s voice, rising in anger later on in the song. The song starts off slow, with just acoustic guitar and Noah’s voice, then over the 7-minutes, it builds to a deafening roar.
The album closes out with the piano-led track “Planted Seeds”. Suitably, this song wraps up the battle of love and loss well, with a closing message of not being able to go back. The life that we choose is the one we must live, and with the people we choose.
This album is a powerful collection of love songs, mainly lost and broken love. Noah has done another expert job at pouring his heart out into everything he works on. Make sure to check him out later this year at Wayhome Music and Arts Festival thing July.