Staff Writer—Elise Stiemsma
Stick Season, Noah Kahan’s newest album is a heartfelt listen, with folk infused pop and sensitive themes. Kahan blends folk and country with upbeat pop styles. Lyrically, Kahan sings about recent heartbreak, and his experiences growing up; rhythmically, Kahan uses familiar rhythms to bring the listener a sense of nostalgia.
While Kahan has been making music since the age of twelve, during an Instagram live he expressed that this album “feels like a culmination of (his) music.” Kahan uses banjo, acoustic guitar, drums, and bass to create a folky undertone to his music. His older music often catered towards what his audience wanted, but this album shows real growth to write music that is entirely his own.
In concert this past Saturday, Kahan’s album has been said to have “midwest vibes,”— a description he can’t help but agree with after spending the last few days here. Kahan mixes heartbreak, complicated relationships, and hometown difficulties. He sings about “dirt roads named after high school friends’ grandfather” in “Homesick.” This lyric, among others, reminds me of small town life in Sioux Center; Kahan reflects on feeling lonely, cutting yourself off from those around you, even when you live in a small close-knit community. I would be remiss not to mention “Northern Attitude,” which is one of the more popular songs on the album; he argues that the place we grow up changes the very people we become. As college students, we live away from our homes in some sense, learning how the places we grew up can influence who we are. “Growing Sideways” then expresses feelings of burnout, which at this point in the semester many college students are feeling.
Highlights of the album include the titular track “Stick Season,” for those suffering from heartbreak, “Homesick” for those fed up with small town living, and “New Perspectives” for those fighting their hometown and their broken heart. This album will sound familiar to fans of Kahan’s distinct music, but will awe new listeners who are fans of Ray LaMontagne, the Lumineeers, the Avett Brothers, the Ruralists, or Mumford & Sons.
Photo credit: Celeste Vandermeer