At only 22 years of age Noah Derksen is showing some talent beyond his years on his recent six-song release entitled Man That I Am. The world has surely seen its fair share of singer/songwriters equipped with not much else besides an acoustic guitar and a decent voice. Derksen can certainly be lumped into the singer/songwriters who combine intimacy and melancholy but that doesn’t mean he has nothing to offer.
Derksen may fall more into the John Mayer or Jack Johnson camp rather than the Sufjan Stevens or Tallest Man in the World category but something about Derksen is more appealing to me than that of the former. It’s hard to pinpoint but Derksen doesn’t seem as self indulgent as a guy like Mayer and doesn’t give off the vibe that he needs a spotlight.
The songs are sparse but sound full. At the center of these songs are his vocals and guitar but Derksen does a good job decorating the song with other instruments like violin and piano, which add other layers of emotional complexity.
Derksen opens with the title track, which is a melancholy and reflective story about his discoveries and experiences he had while moving to the west coast. He sings, “I’ve been confined and I’ve been reminded / Of everything that I don’t want to know / Instead of flying I’ve been trying so hard / To escape the things that I have outgrown.” “Northern Lights” is a solid track that gets a boost from the violin while “Death By Imagination” has a folky feel that is arguably the highlight of the album.
He closes with “You Will Be Found,” which starts off melancholy but as it progresses gets covered in layers of hope. The lyrics reciprocate the feeling the music gives you. He sings, “Oh darling, you will be found / Before the sun goes down / Oh darling, no matter where you roam / You’ll be brought home.”
Man That I Am contains good songwriting and production. It’s certainly worth a spin, Derksen probably doesn't know it yet but I predict his finest work is yet to come.
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