With his pointed folk sensibilities and his familial gospel thrust, this Olympia, Wash., singer/songwriter is always filled with good intentions and quiet intensity. A holy softness marks his secular work (think of Noah Gundersen as you would a male Leyla McCalla), and its lyrical touchstones include love lost and hope abandoned and renewed.
With Carry The Ghost, however, Gundersen applies his flat, sandy voice (Jackson Browne-ish, to be sure) to more existential lyrical matters and pulsing, syncopated sounds. Take, for instance, the elegant simplicity of “Slow Dancer”—its tiny synth-trap pulse and angry guitar fuzz set upon a bedrock of blocked piano chords. Or the philosophically weighty, but harmonically breezy “Show Me The Light.” Or the frank-yet-fussy (in a good way) musicality of “I Need A Woman.” These songs benefit from Gundersen’s past, yet leave hope (some of it, at least) and genteelness behind in a cloud of ambient smoke. Good. —A.D. Amorosi