Noah Kahan teased his newest album “Stick Season” as an ode to New England. When he released his first single, the namesake of his album, it blew up on Tik Tok, and the once-niche indie singer was thrown into stardom. The single “Stick Season” was released on June 8, while his second single “Northern Attitude” was later released on Sept. 16.
Kahan’s album captures a sense of nostalgia for a region many people have never even been to. Stick season is a term coined for the transition in Vermont from fall to winter. He opens the album with his two singles, both of which encapsulate the changing of the seasons.
The album follows this pattern as well with the first seven songs on the track list being more upbeat, with a quick strum of the guitar in the background of lyrics about love and memories. While fall may be considered a depressing time of year, there is something about the beauty of the changing of the leaves that we simply cannot hate. The first new song of the album is “All My Love.” This track, just like many of the songs on this album, talks about forgiveness and lost love. “Now I know your name, but not who you are”, Kahan sings, “there ain’t a drop of bad blood, it’s all my love.” This sentiment of yearning for what was, but also accepting the passing of time, follows throughout the album.
“She Calls Me Back” takes its spot as track four, and again has the fun guitar strums in the background as Kahan sings about a love that once was. It is in the fifth track “Come Over” where the audience sees its first shift to a darker tone. Especially in contrast to “She Calls Me Back”, in “Come Over” we hear Kahan’s longing for the love that he once had. “I don’t think that I can take this bed getting any colder,” he sings before repeating the name of the song.
“Everywhere, Everything” is when the audience really sees the shift of the season and the album. Despite also following the story of two lovers, this song takes a much more melancholic outlook on love. He wants nothing more than to die with his lover’s hand in his. He wishes to rot, just as does everything at the turn of the seasons. Regardless of the more pessimistic tone in this song, it is still relatively upbeat when compared to “Orange Juice”, his next track.
While all of his previous songs had a darker tone toward love and nostalgia, “Orange Juice” follows the tale of a friend who has struggled with sobriety. The soft strum of the guitar combined with Kahan’s gentle voice contrasts with the second half of the song, where he can sense the frustration with the situation, a struggle with sobriety familiar to many.
The remaining songs all add onto each other, and Kahan perfectly transitions from a beautiful fall season to the dark uncertainty of winter. It mirrors his transformation from a singer from Strafford, Vermont to performing in front of a national audience.
While the first half definitely has a lighter mood than the second, mental health is another theme present throughout the album. From the start, medication and trauma are intertwined with the lyrics. This does not distract from the overall album, but rather deepens the meanings and intention of each song. It is a personal album for Kahan, and we see this the best in his final song “The View Between Villages.”
If you instantly repeat the album after listening to “The View Between Villages” it would be hard to imagine that it belongs in the same one as “Stick Season.” But Kahan so beautifully transitions from one song to another that the audience is simply immersed in the beauty of the album.
“The View Between Villages” is the perfect ending to Kahan’s love letter to New England and his childhood. Any college student can relate to the feeling of being trapped between two stages in life, and this song encapsulates those emotions perfectly.
“A minute from home but I feel so far from it,” he sings as the chorus starts to pick up. We feel his anger, frustration and confusion, all before the guitar slows down, and the audience is left with an ambiance of nothingness. For the final minute of the album, there are no lyrics, and the audience is forced to sit and think.
This album feels like a wave rushing over you, and there is no better time to listen to it than when the leaves are falling and the first bit of crispiness is hitting the air.
Artist: Noah Kahan
Album: “Stick Season”
Favorite tracks: “Homesick,” “The View Between Villages”
If you like: Gregory Alan Isakov, Dean Lewis
Shamrocks: 5 out of 5
Contact Olivia Schatz at firstname.lastname@example.org