Ledges Cover

I keep getting lucky in hearing melodic, thoughtful and American music, which has been my taste for a while.  Yet again, a warm new voice is heard in Noah Gundersen, a Seattle-based singer and songwriter, who seems to have studied the Alan Lomax catalogs of folk music.   This new album, Ledges, is becoming a fast favorite – certainly on my iPod.  A lot of raw emotion along with a sense of yearning spirituality comes across in these songs and give them a greater sense of drama and meaning.  “Poor Man’s Son” opens the album, reminding me of an old-time hymn – at once gripping while being a little unsettling for a first track on an album.  “Boat House” is simply gorgeous; the melody initially reminded me of R.E.M. (I was thinking “Country Feedback”) and moves along with impassioned vocals, violins and piano, plus a fine sounding acoustic guitar/bass/drums combination.  “Separator” has a nice, light tempo with vocals playing off violin and acoustic guitars as it builds into a harmony-laced chorus against bleak lyrics – at times, Gundersen’s vocals remind me of a younger Tom Waits, with his rasp, but it always remains melodic.  The title track is another lyrical portrait in stark black and white:  “…I drink a little too much/It makes me nervous/I have my grandfather’s blood…” – most of these songs tell unhappy stories that the protagonist holds hope but is fighting a losing battle.  His songs are, in effect, musical mini-novels.  “Liberator” starts stripped down with just acoustic guitar and vocals but then builds to another emotional height with piano and violin but then stops with just guitar and voice; “Time Moves Quickly” is a piano-based dirge that cannot escape the Waits comparison, especially with the sad violin refrain accompanying.

This is a remarkably world-weary piece of work from someone only 25 years old and a solid debut effort.  Certainly, I can say that Ledges is not to be missed.





About the Author

Rob Ross

Rob Ross has been, for good, bad or indifferent, involved in the music industry for over 30 years - first as guitarist/singer/songwriter with The Punch Line, then as freelance journalist, producer and manager to working for independent and major record labels. He resides in Staten Island, New York with his wife and cats; he works out a lot, reads voraciously, loves Big Star and his orange Gretsch. Doesn't that make him neat?

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