I feel like there’s a common theme of the Seattle artists that I stumble upon, in that they all have melancholy undertones. I’m the type of person that enjoys music that is musically simple, but hits me hard lyrically. I also enjoy something that I can put onto my stereotypical coffee shop playlist that I can play at work—yes, my playlist really is called “Stereotypical Coffee Shop Playlist.”
Here’s a scene: it’s a frigid Minnesota winter, I’m laying in bed after school, wrapped up in a million blankets because my room is freezing in the basement. I receive a Snapchat from my friend Jake saying, “Yo, listen to Noah Gundersen,” or something along those lines. I was usually the one telling him to listen to artists if he hadn’t heard of them, so when he told me to listen to an artist I had never heard of, I was blown away. Gundersen hit me with a wave of a breathy vocals, beautiful guitar acoustics, and other string instruments.
Fast-forward to 2016, and I figured out that Gundersen was from Washington. After my first “Simply Seattle” on Damien Jurado, I was fortunately able to experience a cold December evening listening to him at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral. I cried because everything, from his voice to the cathedral, was so beautiful. After the show, flyers for future events were handed out. As one who enjoys going to shows and discovering new artists I haven’t heard of, the flyer mentioned “an evening with the Gundersens.” I immediately thought to myself, “Wait, like, Noah Gundersen?!” Unfortunately, I was unable to make it to the event, as I was back home for winter break. I threw a tantrum and shed a couple of tears.
LOL, that’s a lie. I shed a ton of tears.
Noah Gundersen is an indie folk artist from Olympia, WA. He first learned to play piano around age 13 picked up the guitar later on. He moved to Seattle when he was 18 to pursue a career in music, and teamed up with his younger sister Abby to start performing under the name “The Courage.” (This family is the most talented family I have ever heard. Together, their voices create harmonies that send chills down my spine.)
If you were to listen to Gundersen’s discography, from his first EP, Brand New World, in 2008, to his most recent album, Carry the Ghost, you will find an immense amount of growth in Gundersen’s music. He started as an acoustic soloist, and has since fully developed into an existential lyricist, complete with a band. From 2008 to 2015, Gundersen developed his voice in music through incredibly deep lyrics.
“Sometimes making songs for a living feels like living to make songs.” The accompaniments to his songs are simple, but, like that line from “Selfish Art,” his lyrics are heartfelt and raw. He tells stories in a toned down Bob Dylan/Neil Young manner. With very introspective writing, Gundersen deals with topics such as death, religion, relationships, and success.
If you enjoy Joe Purdy or Gregory Alan Isakov, you are sure to enjoy Gundersen’s soft and mellow spirit in his music. Gundersen’s spirit can also be shown through his cover of Nirvana’s hit, “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
The magic of music is incredible. I find it astonishing how sometimes you can discover new artists from your friends, not listen to them as frequently for a while, and later re-encounter them in a new place of being, but still have it trigger beautiful memories of the past.
You can check out Gundersen’s BandCamp here.
CELENE KOLLER | Noah Gundersen gives me the feels | KXSU Music Reporter