Album Review: Noah Gundersen’s “Carry the Ghost”

Maxine MinalgaSpecial to Southern News

Take Ron Pope and Sam Bentley, lead vocals of the band Paper Kites, and get American Folk musician Noah Gundersen. Whether relaxing on the beach, wallowing over a breakup, or trying to get some shut eye, Gundersen’s second studio album: “Carry The Ghost” is ready to help.

The different shades of grey on the album cover alone foreshadows the gloominess of a newly induced pain. It portrays a feeling of sadness and helplessness through the girl that’s portrayed: hands caressing her slumped body. Maybe Gundersen’s heart wasn’t the only one broken.

With a velvet voice and soft guitar/piano to match, Gundersen shares the story of something many feel: a freshly broken heart. He tells us through his lyrics that a heart can be broken even when breaking someone else’s. In a majority of his songs, a girl’s voice carries sweet harmonies complementing his own. With a girl softly singing under Gundersen, the theme of broken hearted couples is carried out even more.

Gundersen is known for struggling with independence and discovering who he’s supposed to be. Amidst all these songs lies a small hint that he was responsible for the break up and now feels guilty. Many of the songs start off with just guitar – very mellow and soft leading into a faster paced and more upbeat chorus accompanied with drums and in some, a violin.

One of the more popular songs he does this in is “Slow Dancer” around 2:34. There is a focused violin solo which pronounces the pain he feels through the song, pouring out all different emotions. Any fans of “Paper Kites” know that the band is really into the finger picking technique. This technique is found in one of the songs called “Empty From The Start.”  The track relies heavily on the finger picking technique as the main instrumental background.   

Only when listening closely do we notice in the beginning Noah is the heartbreaker. He finally admits to it towards the end in “Silver Bracelet” where he sings “…right before the money took its toll / right before the rhythm lost its soul / right before I made up my mind to go.” There are several different scenarios in this one line, but the main problem we gather is that something is lost.

It seems there was something lost during the relationship, preventing Noah from breaking it off as he writes: “Now that I’m done I can finally see you were the worst and best thing to ever happen to me.” Though he seems confident with his decision now, we see hopelessness and then regret in the later songs such as “The Difference” and “Jealous Love” respectively.

In “The Difference,” he contemplates “why try, why try to fix it?” What’s done is done. He feels he made the wrong choice, but there is no turning back now.

In “Jealous Love” he writes “I’ll do everything I can to be your man” and “don’t want your sympathy, just want you honestly.” He realizes now he is alone. Whether he wanted his significant other back to either fill that void or he really does need her, he is finally realizing he can’t define himself on his own. He will always need someone.

Rating: 4/5

Photo Credit: Dave Lichterman


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