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Noah Gundersen Live

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Gorilla Manchester, 17 January 2020

The opportunity to witness the live performance by two USA singer/songwriters who are unknown to me, albeit both highly praised by others, is something I cannot ignore. I’ve not even heard recordings from them but looked forward to being surprised and even impressed.

The Gorilla in Manchester is not one of my favourite haunts with its lack of a stage barrier and paucity of security staff but in the absence of hard rock bands on the night I didn’t feel threatened. Harrison Whitford released his debut full-length album recently so here’s his background story:

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Speaking about the upcoming shows Harrison Whitford said:

I’m looking forward to playing new songs on the upcoming tour with Noah [Gundersen], and to see how they feel in front of people. I’m also hoping to create a true collaborative effort as far as opening and accompanying Noah goes so that all that attend the shows will hopefully leave with a sense of being inspired. Either way, I’m just grateful to be coming back over there to play music.”

Even if you didn’t realise it, you might well have heard Harrison Whitford’s playing already – his haunting guitar parts can be heard all over Phoebe Bridgers’ ‘Stranger In The Alps’. Whitford is a long-time collaborator and friend of Bridgers, having played and written with her consistently for over six years. A formidable collaborator yes, but left to his own devices, Harrison’s own music more than speaks for itself.

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In releasing his debut album last year AFRAID OF EVERYTHING, the Californian singer/songwriter delivered an intimate collection of tracks to place him firmly on the solo artist spectrum. Balancing the sombre delivery of Elliot Smith with the pop charm of Paul Westerberg, the album offers a startlingly honest debut, packed full of poignant, candid songs that put Harrison and his frank and songwriting on full display. As an additional bonus, fans who invested in the vinyl edition of AFRAID OF EVERYTHING were rewarded with an extra song ‘What’s Happening’; a track made in-collaboration with Phoebe Bridgers who plays bass and drums throughout. Bridgers also appears on the record’s heart-breaking ‘Part Time Heart’, which she famously used to cover in her own early live sets.

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Whitford looked a little nervous as he occupied his chair with his electric guitar, in front of a half-full auditorium. Without introduction he launched into his alt-folk setlist with a rare level of intensity and an immediate impression that his songs reveal his own stories, experiences, himself. I guessed that his setlist largely comprised songs from his debut album and was impressed enough to plan to acquire it as soon as I can. Vocally, his voice is fluid with a wide range although most songs didn’t require the level of stretch to fully explore his capabilities. But what impressed me most was his sincerity and ability to express his deep feelings in music that was melodic and under-stated.

https://www.facebook.com/harrisonwhitfordmusic

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