Album Review: Noah Gundersen – Ledges

Noah Gundersen has more going on than most 24 year olds: three EPs, a slew of songs on television, and now a full length album. Ledges was recorded in Gundersen’s home town of Seattle at Studio Litho, home to Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard. The album was a family affair as Gundersen enlisted his sister, Abby who supplies the violin, cello, and piano and his brother, Jonathan, who covered the drums.

Gundersen covers love, faith, redemption and death on the 11 tracks of the album, and as always, his lyrics and voice are often raw with emotion. All you need to do to hear all of this is listen to the first song, “Poor Man’s Son” which is performed a capella. Gundersen told Spin magazine that the song had been attempted three times but everything just seemed to click into place on the last recording, which was used in its entirety on the album. “It is my hope that it also allows for space, breathing room, and time for the listener to settle into the record.” Gundersen told the magazine and I think his mission was accomplished.

While he clearly has a knack for writing and singing, his true talent shows in that he knows when to hold back and when to go all in. The title track of the album is a great example of this, starting with big strings and guitars before quieting down to accompany his hushed vocals. All of this builds up to the chorus where Gundersen declares “Here I stand on the edge of the ledges I’ve made / Looking for a steady hand / Here I stand in the land full of rocks and valleys / Trying to be a better man for you”.

Personally my favorite tracks are ones that have been stripped down to the bare essentials. On the surface, “Time Moves Quickly” like something that you might hear over the trailer for a sappy romantic movie. However, when you listen to the simple piano, strings and Gundersen’s hushed vocals singing make for an achingly beautiful song.

Although Noah Gundersen may be young, he has clearly experienced a lot and like all his past work, the one thing I was left with after listening to Ledges was a want for more.

Ledges is available on iTunes and Amazon.

You can pick up his Family EP, Saints & Liars EP, and B-Sides on Bandcamp.