They say the third time is the charm. After recording Ledges three separate times, Noah Gundersen was finally completely satisfied with the finished product. Hailing from Seattle, Gundersen has quickly garnered a strong following from fans who love his simplistic singer/songwriter sound, intricate instrumentals, and strikingly honest lyrics. In fact, many liken him to the great Bob Dylan.
Ledges is a maturation for Gundersen in which the lyrics are still as poignant as ever, but where the sound encapsulates his abilities fully. The album opens with the mostly a cappella track, “Poor Man’s Son,” which sets the overall vibe of the record as one focusing on the struggles of the everyday man and woman. The second track, “Boat House,” has a bit of a Midwestern feel, keeping with the minimalistic sound of the first track, and is punctuated by the final line of the chorus, “So go on, wave goodbye.” On “Isaiah,” Gundersen feels remorse for having an affair with a woman in a relationship. He says, “I’m the reason you’re guilty. I’m the other man’s arms. Honey, what am I doing? How did I get this far?”
Overall, the strongest track on the record is the title track, which is sonically the most full-sounding song on the record. Gundersen sings about a feeling we have all had of having to deal with the consequences of our actions, but looking forward at the future with a new sense of purpose. He sings out on the chorus, “Here I stand on the edge of the ledges I’ve made, looking for a steady hand. Here I stand in a land full of rocks in the valleys, trying to be a better man for you.”
The seventh song, “Dying Now,” is the most sobering on the album, in which he discovers “that home is not a person or a place, but a feeling you can’t get back.” Throughout the record, Gundersen is backed up by his sister, Abby, on vocals and instrumentals. However, on “Dying Now,” their harmonization is particularly poignant and adds to the sobering message. One of the first tracks to be released from the record was, “Cigarettes.” It garnered an outpouring of fan support, led to many covers being posted by budding singer/songwriters, and began building momentum for Ledges before it even existed. The song, which deals with that one addiction we all cannot give up, will go down as one of the most definitive songs written by Gundersen.
Noah Gundersen has virtually flown under the radar for most of his career, except to his fans, who are as loyal as they come. However, Ledges should catapult Gundersen into the national spotlight and garner the appreciation of old and new fans alike. The album shows him being more open and honest than ever before, with instrumentals that showcase his incredible musical ability. Ledges is for anyone looking for an album that may have you in tears at times, but will vocalize your innermost feelings better than even you can.
Review by Jonathan Kemp