For the first time this year, I’m posting only one album for the month’s favorite. For me, this album just stood out and I wanted to give it the Old Man Indie spotlight.
Noah Kahan – Stick Season
New England singer/songwriter Noah Kahan has produced a real jewel with his new album Stick Season. The album reflects his roots in Vermont and the songs are built around the season when the leaves are off the trees and New Englanders are dreading the first snow. Kahan has managed to deliver a folk album with catchy pop vibes. The album has a good balance between well-produced stomp and holler songs, like “Northern Attitude” and “Everything, Everything”, and stripped-down acoustic tunes like “Strawberry Wine” and “Come Over”. This is an enjoyable listen from the first to the last track.
The album opens with the energetic “Northern Attitude” which appears to be about a man who is having to start over after a divorce. The song begs forgiveness for the personal foibles of a man raised in the cold Northeast. It is one of those musically upbeat songs that under closer inspection is anything but uplifting. Oh, and it’s an earworm. That is followed by the title track, “Stick Season”, which highlights Kahan’s ability to turn a quick phrase. The song oozes with nostalgia and, again, there is the musical bounce contrasted against New England lyrical malaise. It’s a heady combination.
The quiet acoustic tunes are touching and all a bit sad. “Come Over” lyrics capture this with the lines:
So when they mention the sad kid
In a sad house on Balch street
You won't have to guess who they're speaking about
“Strawberry Wine” is a lovely remembrance of a love that has passed. The small gem on the album is “Growing Sideways” which is about the struggle and coping mechanisms of someone with mental health challenges. It’s stark, beautiful, and sobering. The closing track, “The View Between Villages”, captures the manic nature of the lyrics in the album. While on a drive home the protagonist reflects on his life and the nostalgia provides some escape as he captures a spark of youthful happiness. But it's only momentary. It isn’t long before the anger he has been carrying returns. That’s when he reverses the car and starts to move away from what he was headed towards. It is this in this in-between place, between two villages, and the loss he has experienced over the years that he can be still.
This is such a well-written album. Each song builds on the album’s themes. It’s a delight when something so well-written has great production and so many catchy tunes. Stick Season is a must-listen.