This is our second post on a member of the Gundersen family in less than a month clan (having previously featured Noah’s sister Abby’s beautiful Time Moves Quickly). Ledges is Noah Gundersen’s first full-length album and one which sees him flex his songwriting muscles.
The album opens with ‘Poor Man’s Son’ (which will probably be familiar if you’ve ever been lucky enough to see Noah Gundersen perform live), a sort of gospel folk song which begins in an a cappella style very reminiscent of age-old traditional folk music (more O’ Brother Where Art Thou? than Inside Llewyn Davies). It’s very simple, but also very effective, carried on the strength of the vocal harmonies and, just as importantly, the periods of silence in between. It becomes a little more rousing towards its close and sets up the rest of the album perfectly.
‘Boathouse’ is a classic folk-rock tune, chronicling the story of lost love in the Mississippi mud. The title track has a catchy chorus and represents perhaps Noah Gundersen’s most obvious chance at commercial success (or it would if he were concerned about any of that), while ‘Poison Vine’ is a different beast entirely, a hushed and intimate folk song, more akin to the work of someone like J. Tillman.
Gundersen has reportedly declined several offers from major labels, turning down presumably valuable contracts, preferring instead to remain the master of his own artistic output. This decision is summed up rather nicely in a repeated line in ‘Poor Man’s Son’, where he sings:
“I don’t need no gold or silver
I only need a few new things.
I will buy pearls for my lover
And a brand new set of guitar strings”
The album ends with ‘Time Moves Quickly’, a mournful piece of piano music written and played by Abby (and rather confusingly shares a name with her recent EP), supported by half whispered vocals from Noah. It’s a sombre end to the album, but one which certainly has beauty, a fitting end then.