As of late, Noah Kahan is growing to become a household name. Kahan has been on the scene for some years now, the American singer-songwriter, had his first breakthrough single back in 2017 ‘Hurt Somebody.’ The single charted globally and reached gold status in the United States before the release of his EP by the same name.
Kahan went on to release his debut album, Busyhead in 2014, with hits like ‘false confidence’ and ‘mess’. The alternative album grounded Kahan as a skilled singer and songwriter, the album emitting a complete concoction of powerful feelings. The slow melodies with a captivating buildup demonstrate both Kahan’s lyricism and instrumental prowess, making him a powerful presence in modern music.
A Journey Worth Noting – Noah Kahan’s Road to Stardom
‘I wonder why I tear myself down to be built back up again.’ False Confidence, Busyhead
The coming-of-age debut epitomises the anxiety of growing up and losing who you are. The anxiety of not living up to your own expectations, and dreaming of what you could be, are perfectly demonstrated in the album as a whole and the single ‘Busyhead’. Both a terrifying experience and a recognisable one, something listeners can relate to happening at the time or has already happened to them.
Although melancholic, Kahan embraces the feelings of pain and solitude we can all connect with and deepens the understanding in his music. With Autumn and Winter just around the corner, an artist as emotional and beautifully connecting as Kahan is the perfect listen for early evening walks. The end of Busyhead is a wonderful roundoff view of the album as a whole, the final lyrics of Carlo’s song, a tragic yet beautiful tribute to his late friend, ‘I just want to keep you alive.’
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Noah Kahan has expressed in his recent album “stick season” who his influences are, Bon Iver and James Blake, and as a listener it is clear to see these imprints in his work. Similar artists that share the same pop-alternative genre and mystic lyricism would be Of Mice and Men, Henrik, and Brenn!. Kahan has a distinctive and delicate voice, but of three albums aren’t enough for you, then these artists might fill that void for the time being.
Kahan’s second album I Was / I am, released in 2021, reminisces on who he was before his fame, and who he is becoming. This album is about perspective and how quickly things can change how you feel or think about certain things. After losing his dog and connections with friends, Kahan brings a story of how this pain has shaped him to be the man who produced this album. The blend of pop and folk in this album reminds listeners of his captivating voice and blissful lyricism.
As told in ‘Caves’, this album is about honesty, and being true not only to others but to yourself. Although a frightful or unpleasant experience, Kahan shares his fears of being frank and being stuck in a relationship until someone is finally honest.
There’s no doubt this album still follows the melancholic fear and heart-squeezing emotions from Busyhead. ‘Bad Luck’ expresses self-doubt and questions personal worth over time. This song is a recognition that you’re not good enough to care for someone else when you can barely look after yourself, no matter how hard you are trying. The desperation of the lyrics ‘I’m doing everything that I can’ are hard to ignore in such a powerful song.
I was / I am is definitely a further move in the pop direction, yet Kahan doesn’t hide his folk and alternative routes. Kahan has the wonderful ability in both his lyrics and instrumental talents to create music that is film soundtrack-worthy.
‘Hollow’ is a perfect example of growing up and life-changing right before you, living day by day and forgetting who it is you want to become. The ascending track demonstrates Kahan’s instrumental ability as not only a vocalist but also a guitarist, banjo player and mandolin player.
This is also the case for his most recent third album Stick Season, the album that has stationed Kahan as a musician that deserves the growth in his career. Stick Season is about the time between August and Winter when the snow is waiting to fall and the air is bitter, reminiscing back to his childhood in Vermont.
In an interview with Apple Music’s Hanuman Welch, Kahan shared how this wasn’t initially intended to be an album, but after writing ‘Stick Season’ he realised he had begun a story. His song shared feelings of isolation and reminiscent of his time at home. He recalls the winters in New England and how the changing of seasons impacted his life so deeply, the claustrophobia of a small town and the lack of life following a cold winter.
He expressed how these feelings of loneliness and isolation weren’t just because he was in Vermont, as this followed him when he moved to New York. Self-realisation that these feelings weren’t just the happenings of where he lived, but instead is an internal struggle he managed to accept through his writing.
‘Homesick’ is a standout track from Stick Season, Kahan’s tone seems to express his frustration with being isolated in a small town yet this being a part of who you are. The buildup within ‘Homesick’ feels as though it resembles his frustrations, a feeling of not knowing where you are going in life or how to get there stuck in thought.
One of the most notable tracks from his latest album, ‘Dial Drunk’ also has a remixed version with Post Malone, a popular hit on TikTok and a song that’s hard not to scream every lyric to. It’s clear to see in his latest album that Kahan has really found who he is as a musician, and that his lyrics are not only personal but relatable. Stick Season is a homage to the folk singers Kahan grew up listening to and builds himself to becoming one of these infamous names.
Noah Kahan definitely has a positive future in music ahead.
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