So I’ve managed to get my hands on Noah Gundersen’s first full album, “Ledges”. I’ve been listening to it for the last few days on heavy rotation, and I’m still not sure where I stand with this album. I definitely had to dig quite a bit deeper on this one compared to his EP “Family”.
The first thing that stands out for me is the abundance of biblical references scattered amongst the lyrics. The most prominent of which is the track “Isaiah”, which uses the prophet Isaiah (No surprises there) as a vehicle for the song. “With the prophet Isaiah on the crook of your arm, saying I will protect you from all earthly harm”. The rest of the lyrics reveal a love affair that he is having with an attached woman: “I’m the reason you’re guilty, in another man’s’ arms. Honey, what am I doing, how did I get this far”.
So, to sum up, we have reference to the Prophet Isaiah, who prophesized the coming of Jesus Christ. And the story of an adulterous love affair. (Are you seeing the link yet? Me neither).
But somehow this song doesn’t feel blasphemous at all. In fact, you get the sense that neither party has any control over the situation. Almost like there’s another force at work. Something biblical, or prophetic perhaps? I don’t know. You have a listen and decide for yourself.
A great artist is someone that is able to express their feelings without holding back. A great artist is willing to expose himself and his proverbial skeletons. It’s an unfortunate truth that the most memorable songs are born out of some terrible situations, such as drug addictions and family abuse. I remember watching a video of a collaboration between Herbie Hancock, John Legend and Pink. Pink opens the video saying “Pain is what creates my music, I’m useless when I’m happy. Pain is my motivator. Frustration, anger, confusion, loneliness”. Obviously this is not true for all artists, but it seems to me that Gundersen has a similar muse.
The album starts with “Poor man’s son”. The gospel like a cappella harmonies draw you in immediately and I can’t help but think that there’s a bit of Negro spiritual mixed in there as well. This song would be fantastic live. The intensity would have a crowd transfixed and the gaps between phrases would leave you holding your breath in anticipation. The song builds later with the addition of the acoustic guitar, and the last 50 seconds of the song has the gang almost shouting a repeat of what would be the bridge of the song. Almost like he’s getting annoyed because no one is listening! LISTEN UP DAMMIT!!!!! We’re listening Noah. Promise.
I could go on about all these songs for ages, and it wouldn’t bother me either. In the time it’s taken me to write this, I’ve gone from “not so sure” to a firm believer! This man is brilliant! I will leave you with one more interesting correlation:
In my previous blog, my review on Gundersens “Family” EP, I mentioned that the only other time I felt this passionate about a musician was the first time I heard “O” by Damien Rice. On that album there is a song called “Cold Water”. The chords and beat of the introduction and verse are almost identical to “Poison Vine” from this album currently on review. What does that mean? I’m really not sure. Draw your own conclusions. For me it’s symbolically poetic. An affirmation of my loyalty.
If you do decide to listen to him, take your time. Really listen. Make a conscious decision to hear what he has to say, and the way in which he says it. You will find it hard not to believe him!
4 March 2014