Noah Gundersen – Carry the Ghost

Dualtone – 8/21/2015

I narrowly missed the 1-year anniversary of this release which reminded me to finally post my review of one of the best records of 2015. -Ed.

Critics strive for objectivity. Noah Gundersen’s 2015 heart-wrenching pain-fest Carry the Ghost makes me throw all objectivity out the window and I don’t even care. I would gladly mortgage my entire reviewing career [Editor’s Note: “Career.”] just as long as Noah keeps making records of this caliber.

I got into Noah Gundersen via an ex-girlfriend. She was 12 and a half years my junior. There was no way she could tell me anything about music. I’m Negadave. I have forgotten more life-changing records than she has had hot meals. Noah Gundersen? Pfft. This guy can’t hold a candle to my favorite folk singers. [Editor’s Note: Mark Kozelek and Malcolm Middleton, for the record.] I bet this guy sounds like Dave Matthews. [Editor’s Note: I secretly love DMB. Real fans call him “Dave.”] She played me Noah’s 2011 EP, Family. I thought to myself, “Where have I heard this guy before?” Then it hit me: Sons of Anarchy. You mean to tell me you like a guy who plays on the Sons of Anarchy soundtrack? *scoff*

. . .
. . .
. . .

Damn. His sadness tastes like mine.

Now this is something I can get behind. Way better than those bland Avett Brothers that she loves so much. [Editor’s Note: They aren’t that bad when they dial down the fucking banjo. Seriously. If you ever feel the need to put a banjo on your record, simply stop, put it down, and use a mandolin instead. You’re welcome.]

Fast forward to six months later. She’s long gone and I’m alone again, naturally. Left to my own devices, back to my baseline level of emptiness, the one I’ve been carrying around for 20+ years. It hurts, man. But I’m getting by. As long as I avoid Noah. Let’s hope he doesn’t show up on shuffle. The odds are in my favor that that I’ll hear at least 3 Bolt Thrower songs before I stumble across some Noah, right?

. . .
. . .
. . .

Shit. “San Antonio Fading.”

I can do this. I’m a grown-ass man. This ain’t my first rodeo. “I hope that you’re doing well. If this was necessary why does it still hurt like hell?” Fuck. He got me. I’ll be over here in the dark for the next year and a half, trying not to cry every time Noah sings, “And if I say I love you like you know I do, would you say you love me too?”

Oh, Noah’s dropping a new record? I guess I’ll check it out. I haven’t thought about him in a while. [Editor’s Note: Whatever. You listened to the Ledges LP 117 times.] I bet it won’t even be any good.

. . .
. . .
. . .

This is album of the year after the first listen. I’m back to drinking alone in the dark. It’s just me, right? I can’t be objective because his music is too personal for me. It hits me on a level that few artists can so it doesn’t count. It’s not empirically, objectively excellent.

It’s…it’s…goddamn it.

If the world were a just place, Noah would have won a Grammy for this one. If you want to have your wasted heart cut out with a spoon sans anesthesia and love every borderline unendurable second of it, this is the record for you. It doesn’t matter if Noah has a full band, an acoustic guitar, or is merely sitting alone behind a piano, every track hits you on a level that you know is there, all the time, but you try not to look directly at it for fear of letting those emotions out of the bottle. They are the kind that take root and don’t ever let go. But I honestly don’t even care anymore. It feels so good to feel anything this deeply that I’ll gladly let my heart break every single time I spin Carry the Ghost. I’ll still come back for more. It’s a sickness. Someone should probably try to save me, but I’ll just drive them away so that I can keep living the same day, over and over again. As long as the soundtrack is penned by Noah Gundersen.


5/5 stars = Excellent
“Settle down, head against the window
counting hours by the handful of plastic bottle shots
coming home, sleeping in my own bed
waking up to the silence
I’m no good at this at all”