Noah Gundersen

Noah Gundersen

Review: Noah Gundersen – Lover

Noah Gundersen Lover

I’ve interviewed Noah Gundersen two times in the past and both conversations centered around his restlessness concerning his art. The first time I spoke with him, ahead of the release of 2015’s Carry the Ghost, he told me how his debut album, the previous year’s folk-steeped Ledges, no longer reflected who he was or the music he wanted to make. In 2017, when we chatted about his audacious, adventurous third LP White Noise, it was the songs from the spiritually fraught Ghost that he was ready to move on from. “I just think I’m perpetually dissatisfied, which can be really frustrating,” he said. “But it also drives my creativity and my desire to do better and to make things that are better than what I’ve made in the past.”

On his fourth record, titled Lover (and released on the same day as an album by Taylor Swift that shares the exact same name), Gundersen seems perhaps more comfortable with letting his restlessness slide than he ever has before. The collection is at once both unique from everything he’s ever made previously and packed with songs that call back to previous moments from his catalog. There are raw acoustic songs that feel ripped from the cloth of the traditionally-hewn Ledges. Lead single “Robin Williams,” with its fractious electric guitar chords, plays like a twin to Carry the Ghost’s first single and lead-off track “Slow Dancer.” “Out of Time” initiates flashbacks to the Radiohead influences that blossomed all over White Noise. The entire Noah Gundersen toolkit, it seems, is fair game on this album.

Review: Noah Gundersen – Carry the Ghost

Noah Gundersen - Carry the Ghost

Leading up to the release of Carry the Ghost, the second full-length album from Noah Gundersen, I was a little bit nervous. I loved Noah’s first LP, last year’s Ledges, so much that I couldn’t imagine the follow-up living up to my impossibly high expectations. If I had to pick a favorite record of the decade so far, Ledges would be it, so the thought of Gundersen making an album as good (or even better) was hardly something that I was even daring to hope for. Furthermore, the first track released from Carry the Ghost—the piano-led album opener “Slow Dancer”—showed that Noah was looking to flesh out his sound significantly on this record. Even on first listen, I really did love the song, but by the time an anguished electric guitar came ripping through the arrangement, I was worried that Carry the Ghost might fall victim to the pitfalls that singer/songwriters often encounter when they trade acoustic bedroom folk for lusher full-band textures. After all, we hadn’t heard a lick of electric guitar on Ledges.