Noah Gundersen has been through something. His curtain of curly brown hair has been shorn to his scalp and turned to gold. His once-tender frame has bulked up.
“It’s been a transformative year,” he said, much of it spent writing and recording his new and fourth album, “Lover,” an open wound of a record that will be released Aug. 23. That day, the Seattle-based Gundersen will perform in-store at Easy Street Records in West Seattle and then head off on a North American tour that will bring him to Seattle’s Showbox on Nov. 16.
“I was ready for a change,” Gundersen, 30, said of his sleeker look and more sensitive sound. “I needed something different. I think in terms of seasons and chapters of things, and now just feels a lot lighter.”
He was speaking in a private room at Canlis, where his record company had arranged a listening party for “Lover” with the help of Gundersen’s close friend, chef Brady Williams. Gundersen stood in front of one of the fabled restaurant’s wide windows and introduced and explained the origin of each song.
He wrote “Lover” over the course of a week spent at his parents’ house. He would ride his motorcycle home from the grocery store, he said, thinking up lyrics and “spinning stuff around.”
That time, early 2018, was “really hard,” Gundersen said. “A lot of personal stuff. Career things. Financial. It all kind of broke me. But that forced me to soften up a bit.”
He also started going to therapy and eating psilocybin mushrooms for medicinal purposes.
“It has changed my perspective about the permanence of things,” he said. “I take myself a lot less seriously, which as a singer/songwriter is much needed.”
He recorded “Lover” at The Crumb studio in Seattle with his longtime collaborator and producer, Andy D. Park, who has worked with Death Cab for Cutie and Pedro The Lion. Together, they dug deep, exploring themes of love, failure, drugs, sex, age and regret and the search for acceptance and peace.
The first single from “Lover” is “Robin Williams,” which Gundersen wrote after watching “Come Inside My Mind,” the HBO documentary about the actor and comedian who died by suicide in August 2014.
“I was just bawling,” Gundersen said of the film. And then he wrote a song about anxiety, and love, and carrying on. (“One way or another, it’s gonna make its presence known/From one monkey to another/You can’t lose what you don’t own/It’s okay if you get anxious/Just please don’t call the cops/There’s a couple things I’m sure of, and a whole lot more I’m not”).
Born in Olympia and raised in Centralia, where he was home-schooled by his conservative, religious parents, Gundersen left home at 18 and started playing around Seattle. He performed in a band called The Courage, which included his sister, Abby, and which recorded live and studio albums. He released his first solo EP, “Brand New World,” in 2008, when he was just 19.
Gundersen has been at it for more than a decade now. He feels it, but he welcomes it. He likes being — and feeling — older, and the wisdom from which he pulls and seasons his music.
“From an artist perspective, I’m not a kid anymore,” Gundersen said. “The way the music industry is leaning, people are so young. So I guess I’m somewhere between a new face and a household name.
“I’m just putting out this record because it’s something I like,” he continued. “My self-worth is not riding on this record. Maybe that’s one of the lessons of the mushrooms, therapy and turning 30.”
Noah Gundersen appearances:
7 p.m. Aug. 23; Easy Street Records, 4559 California Ave. S.W., Seattle; free; easystreetonline.com
9 p.m. Nov. 16; The Showbox, 1426 First Ave., Seattle; $22 ($25 day of show); showboxpresents.com