New Music Monday: Noah Gundersen



October usually means a couple of significant things to me: the slice of heavenly fall break is coming and I’m going to a lot of concerts. Fall is a popular touring season for many artists. One musician touring for the second fall in a row is folk singer-songwriter Noah Gundersen.

Gundersen’s easy-going yet dark style is a perfect sound for fall. His quiet, honest voice is intense enough to make you listen to his words and effortless enough to sing you to sleep. He plays acoustic, sometimes electric guitar and piano. His sister, Abby, plays violin and sings back-up vocals. His brother, Jonathan, plays drums. Sibling bands just tend to work. (See Nickel Creek.) Gundersen has been playing music professionally since 2006, but grew up in a musically-centered family in Seattle, Washington.

Carry the Ghost is Gundersen’s second full-length album, but it takes its place on his discography among four shorter-length EPs. Considering his album Ledges was just released last year, it’s safe to say Carry the Ghost is a slightly abrupt departure from a more folksy acoustic sound. On his website, Gundersen says this album “grew out of a desire to know myself, to know how I’m supposed to live. And in that process, I realized maybe there’s no ‘supposed to be.’” The soul-searching that occurs on Carry the Ghost embodies the quarter life crisis, but makes it sound like it’s coming from a seasoned veteran of life’s heartaches and questions. To me, this album is about the burden of not knowing what to let go of and what to hold on to. As a people group moving constantly because of our age—through school, through relationships, through jobs—Gundersen speaks to the anxiety of stepping into adulthood and the regret of leaving behind pieces of youth. It’s up to us to decide who we cling to and who we forget, where we find purpose and where we need to never return. Gundersen takes the smallest facets of young-adulthood and dives into them, framing them so we see their true significance.

If you see Noah Gundersen once, you know that every one of his songs us a genuine probing into something that happened or is happening to him. His shows are stripped, honest, and always intimate. I saw him at The Camphouse in Chattanooga this past January and he said he would sing until his drink was gone. We all sighed when he downed the last of it, but he gave us a couple more songs because none of us wanted to leave the deep, reflective atmosphere he had created.

You can see Noah Gundersen this Thursday, Oct. 9, at The Grey Eagle in Asheville.