Very concentrated, minimalist arrangements with good vocals
Too distracting background music
Too few surprising and entertaining elements
Some indie folk from the US West Coast: Noah Gundersen is releasing a new album, A Pillar of Salt. I had the chance to have a listen to it before its actual release date on 8th October 2021. Here is my impression.
Noah Gundersen – About The Artist
Noah Gundersen was born on 31st May 1989 in Olympia, Washington State. He has seven siblings, the family has five biological and three adopted kids. In teenage years, he started to learn the guitar and the piano. He decided to pursue a musical career and did solo recordings as well as releases with a band, The Courage. However, the band broke up in 2011. Gundersen’s debut release was a solo one, the EPBrave New World. On the solo side, he released five EPs and four long-plays so far. A Pillar of Salt is his fifth solo album.
Noah Gundersen – A Pillar of Salt – Track by Track
The eleven track album lasts 47 minutes.
1. Laurel and Hardy
Noah Gundersen starts with this track, which is rather slow and just need very limited elements. The background sounds might be the most catching ones – apart from his vocals, of course. Gentle start into this eleven song set.
Body is working similarly than the opener: a few instruments, some background samples, which feel to loop most of the time. All that is done to focus on the vocals, the story of the song. I feel the song has a certain touch – but the album has not full caught me yet.
3. The Coast
The electronic background elements are significantly reduced in here compared to the opening songs. I like that style of Noah Gundersen much more. Nice folk track, which still has its own, signature sound. Really good.
4. Exit Signs
I feel Exit Signs is a great example, how I feel that Noah Gundersen’s music is really working out well: there is a clear folk music heart in this song, but the song has the ease of feeling a bit of pop-ish as well. Very catching melody and lyrics, which are supported by atmospheric sounds in the background. The result is a good song.
5. Atlantis (feat. Phoebe Bridgers)
Atlantis is not only the longest song of all eleven, the guitar chords at the beginning of the song really make you feel you were below sea level. From this lovely style intro, the song more and more develops towards a beautiful duet with Phoebe Bridgers.
6. Magic Trick
Magic Trick is a rather classic folk song. Towards the end, I feel that the backing sounds are a bit too much. No surprises on the arrangement side. Vocals, piano and guitars – that’s all it needs. At the ends, there are some sprinkles of fiddle sounds as well.
Blankets is going to a completely opposite direction: a lot of electronic sounds and synth, a lot of atmosphere, rhythm from the drum machine. The song is almost a bit of mysterious – which is one of the key reasons why it is a rather catchy one: it comes with a very own atmosphere.
8. Bright Lost Things
It takes very long until I really get in this song. One reason is that the first two minutes of this five minute song feel really lame to me. That’s quite a shame – the song is actually not too bad at all towards the end.
9. Sleepless In Seattle
Sleepless In Seattle was at least the only A Pillar of Salt single release I could find preparing for my review. Some parts give me some reference to Fields of Gold by Sting. One of the best songs of the album – so that I feel that Gundersen and his team did a wise release selection.
10. Back To Me
Back to Me is melancholic, dark, slow. Also as the song comes with a long fade off, it is one of my least favorite songs of the album.
11. Always There
A slow track at the beginning, which is – especially towards the end – using a lot of these background effects. To me, they are just too distracting, disturbing. They prevent me to get into the song. Very unfortunate.
Noah Gundersen – A Pillar of Salt – Spotify
Here is A Pillar of Salt on Spotify:
Noah Gundersen – A Pillar of Salt – My View
Bad luck – listening to the single and teasing a few songs made me feel that A Pillar of Salt could be a great album – but overall, it disappointed me. There is always a balance between creating a very individual sound and simply doing too much. I feel that Noah Gundersen does have a nice touch in his music, but there are too many distracting elements into it. I cannot deny he greates some nice moods on the album – but sometimes he feels even as great to me to destroy them agiain. Not more than average due to that reason.