Noah Gundersen isn't even 25 years old yet, but the weight of the material on his full-length debut, Ledges, makes it easy to mistake him for a musician twice his age. While the singer-songwriter has explored issues related to family, death, sin and salvation on earlier EPs, he digs miles deeper on the new album, which he'll bring to the Frequency on March 1.
"Poor Man's Son" highlights Gundersen's sense of melody and variety. What begins as an a cappella song with a gospel feel slowly morphs into a subtle folk track. While the instrumentation remains sparse and simple, there is verve in the harmonies, which are augmented fantastically by his sister, Abby. This energy builds as the song goes along.
The title track offers a glimpse into Gundersen's mind as he stands on the precipice of manhood. Lines like "Here I stand on the edge of the ledges I've made/Looking for a steady hand" hint at a desire to take control of his life and a yearning for the comfort of having someone to help him navigate life's ups and downs. On "Boat House," three distinct feelings emerge in equal measure. He is certain that he must take a bold step into unfamiliar territory, he wants to take that step, and he fears what that step may bring.
"Isaiah" best encapsulates the album's gravity. While flirting in a bar with a woman who is spoken for, Gundersen -- or the character he's portraying -- notices a reference to the prophet Isaiah on her arm. He nearly whispers throughout the track as careful, almost apologetic acoustic guitar strumming carries his words into the wind. When he and Abby repeat the phrase "fear thou not," it's impossible not to wonder whether he'll take this message to heart. His worry about the future is palpable.
Ledges is a beautiful exploration of the confusion and messiness that make us human.