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As her opening statement, , out Friday on Dead Oceans, is an accumulation of music Bridgers, now 22, has been writing since she started writing songs.
(Though it does not include the first song Bridgers wrote, at age 12, entitled “The Only Bird Flying the Other Way”—“so you can just know that, when I go to bed, I have that knowledge in my head,” she told me the next day, “and it is disturbing to me.”) Bridgers and her brother Jackson (who is named for Jackson Browne) were raised by their mother, “a really, really big music fan” who encouraged her daughter to perform at any opportunity.
Both had stints in the choir, and both found they didn’t care for it, preferring to sing and harmonize in less structured environments.
These days, Gundersen is an accomplished, hard-working music professional.
We’re a long way from the push-button espresso machines of a Starbucks in Centralia, Washington, where Noah worked as a teen and performed his first live show.“I always say I worked at a ‘coffee shop,’” he’s compelled to explain, “because it sounds cooler than saying I worked at Starbucks.” Gundersen, who left his family home at 18 for the bustle of Seattle’s music scene, did his growing as a songwriter under the eye of the Emerald City’s notoriously harsh media and slow-to-warm fans.
“Jesus Christ, I’m so blue all the time,” Bridgers sings, sounding surprised even at herself.
Towards the end of 2016, while she was recording the album, Bridgers opened for Conor Oberst during a secret show he put on at L. At the same time, Oberst’s Bright Eyes bandmate Mike Mogis signed on to mix the record at his Omaha studio; Bridgers, as a result, spent five days in Nebraska with Mogis and Oberst, who live on the same property. Earlier this year, Bridgers opened for Oberst on several more tour dates; there are a couple videos floating around Youtube in which Bridgers and Oberst duet on Bright Eyes’ “Lua.”Oberst is also featured on , in “Would You Rather,” and as the album was coming together, Bridgers emailed it to him for notes.“He said like a paragraph about each song. Then, he came to the album closer, a cover of Mark Kozelek’s “You Missed My Heart." His response: “THAT’S INTENSE,” Bridgers recalled. The record might be sad, but it’s also full of witty moments and literary references, making it feel like a full portrait of a bold new artist.“It’s a record I’ve been waiting to put out since I started playing music,” Bridgers said.
On Friday night three artists who all rightfully could have headlined such a show came together to play a benefit for the beloved CSUN radio station KCSN 88.5 Los Angeles.