25-year-old singer Noah Kahan brings about a wave of nostalgia with his third studio album “Stick Season.” The album’s title adopts the term for the transitional period between fall and winter, when leaves have all fallen and trees are left bare-boned; Kahan transports listeners to rural New England, an area well known for its autumnal feel.
“Stick Season” originated when Kahan spent the pandemic returning to his roots in Vermont. Stepping away from the studios of New York City, the album is a departure from his more mainstream songs of the past. Instead, “Stick Season” is a fusion of indie and folk-infused pop, somehow reminiscent of warm apple cider, backyard bonfires and cozy flannel shirts. The album has 14 tracks and not a single one is worth skipping.
The title track, released in July, originally gained traction on TikTok; despite having blown up over the summer, the song embodies the feel of fall. But the song doesn’t just resonate with New Englanders, it depicts the universal and often isolating feeling of going back to your hometown.
“And I love Vermont, but it’s the season of the sticks and I/Saw your mom, she forgot that I existed,” Kahan sings in a mixture of fondness and regret.
“Orange Juice” and “Strawberry Wine” champion an Edgar Allen Poe-influenced vision of New England – simple and crisp with recurring images of crows and bones.
“No thing defines a man like love that made him soft/and sentimental like a stranger in the park,” Kahan sings poignantly in “Strawberry Wine” — guitar strum ringing true in the background.
“Everything, Everywhere” is a refreshing upward anthem, despite the dark romanticism of the lyrics:
“I wanna love you ‘till we’re food for the worms to eat/’Till our fingers decompose/Keep my hand in yours.”
“Northern Attitude” draws upon the cold contrast between the upbringing and demeanor of New Englanders and inhabitants of other states. “Homesick,” as the title implies, illustrates an unexpected affection for the land he once grew to hate.
Authentic and raw, “The View Between Villages” perfectly encapsulates the complex feelings that emerge as one drives back home. On a similar note, “Halloween” talks of resurfacing ghosts.
“This town’s the same as you left it. Your page was blank but I read it. I still dial 822993167.”Noah Kahan in his song “She Calls Me Back”
“I’m in the business of losin’ your interest/And I turn a profit each time that we speak,” Kahan cleverly sings in the yearning track “Come Over.”
“All My Love” is down-to-earth, shining as a song of grudge-turned-forgiveness and “She Calls Me Back” makes one want to jump up and down at the thought of potentially reciprocated love.
“This town’s the same as you left it. Your page was blank but I read it. I still dial 822993167,” Kahan sings in the latter, as though watching one’s life unfold from afar.
As someone who rarely ventures outside the realm of pop, Kahan’s album acts as a lovely push toward exploration, teasing at what could be with an open mind. Kahan is currently on his “Stick Season” tour and tickets are sold out at nearly every U.S. venue — a testament to the sheer love felt for the album.