I thought I'd start with what I think is the best album to come out in all of 2015: Carry The Ghost by Noah Gundersen. It's times like these that I really thank my lucky stars for having Liz Tramp in my life. If it weren't for Liz, I would never have even heard of Noah Gundersen, and then my life would never have been the same. So, thank you Liz for having great taste in music, and I think you're pretty great too!
Gundersen is one of those artists who could make the happy birthday song sound like the most passionate and pivotal thing he's ever sung in his whole life. His music just takes over the emotional side of your brain and holds on with a terrier-esc grip. His debut album Ledges, was and is my go to album to trump all others. Carry The Ghost is no different my friends. I could listen to this album all day, every day for the rest of my life, and never tire of it. It is in a word: flawless.
The album opens with solo piano, playing the opening chords of Slow Dancer. The piano gives way to electric guitar rifts, and soft percussion, and later, a frantic and passionate string section. Slow Dancer feels like the old-school ballads of yesteryear, and is a beautiful way to set the tone for the rest of the album. Halo (Appear/Disappear) is a dark self-examination: beautiful and heartbreaking. Gundersen has a way of making each lyric matter, without making you feel like he's forcing the emotion out of his songs. It just flows so naturally from his song writing and his performance.
I'm watching as the stage goes black
How long until we all go back
To being nothing at all
Nothing but a spark in someones eye
Am I giving all that I can give
Am I earning the right to live
By looking in a mirror
There's nothing more sincere than selfish art
Gundersen examines past, broken relationships, in Show Me The Light, Silver Bracelet, Jealous Love, and Blossom. Silver Bracelet uses light guitar trills and tender visuals, as Gundersen recalls fond memories of better times.
Silver bracelet in my cup
Holder marks like bread crumbs on your trail line
And the pictures on the fridge
From the booth in Tennessee that one time
When I was in love and you were in love with me also
Holding my hand
Kissing my mouth like you wanted to
Back before the money tool its toll
Back before the rhythm lost its soul
Back before I made up my mind to go
Blossom is especially beautiful in its lyrics and instrumentation. Gundersen sadly sings about a loving a relationship, that still could not work, while sincerely wishing the other well: "May you blossom like a flower, may you go dancing in the air"
Gundersen also examines the topics of human nature, sexuality, and God in The Difference, Empty From the Start, and Topless Dancer.
Carry the Ghost is a beautiful sophomore album for Gundersen. It is an emotional, tender, sensual and passionate folk album and I am entirely in love with it. I struggle to find fault lines or cracks in Ghost for this review. If there are any, it's that it's just not long enough, so I definitely recommend the Deluxe edition.