Review: Noah Kahan’s New “Stick Season (Forever)”
UPDATED: February 20, 2024
UPDATED: February 20, 2024

Stick Season (Forever)

Noah Kahan’s third and final release of Stick Season, now titled Stick Season (Forever), debuted on February 9, 2024, with nine new tracks, including recent remixes with artists like Post Malone, Hozier, and the criminally underrated Brandi Carlile. The new rendition of the Deluxe Stick Season (Forever) closes at a whopping 2 hours with 30 tracks.

As “hipstery” as I can be at times, I came late to the Noah Kahan party. I must admit, the popularity of mainstream artists typically leads me to the unfair assumption that their music is most likely not for me. Once again, that’s neither good nor bad, just not my flavor. I’ve stated many times that people look to music for all sorts of reasons. I theorize that pop music is just easily digestible escapism, and hell, it obviously works, thus the term pop music. People want to sing and dance and feel good, versus something like the delightful sound of the existential dread The Lost Dog Street Band might grace us with. Regardless, my whole point being, I’m perplexed by the anomaly that is Noah Kahan. How did this indie-folk singer-songwriter become essentially a mega-star?

Singer-Songwriter Folk-Pop?

Well, it’s pretty straightforward if you ask me. Kahan has a knack for writing thought-provoking and insightful lyrics. His storytelling is undeniable, lacing vivid imagery into relatable coming-of-age stories. Many times during this album, I get transported back to my early 20s, reliving some great, but mainly not so great, relationships. The title track, Stick Season, punches me in the heart like an angry Mike Tyson. It puts me back in the drunken stupor of a brisk Autumn breakup of 2012. Kahan has a magical superpower when it comes to evoking nostalgia into his music. Almost like he’s cast some sort of spell over the listener. Aside from his lyrics, the musical arrangements, although rooted in folk, harness the power of pop music to create unforgettable rhythmic hooks. Stick Season will root itself inside of your brain and remain there for eternity, luckily for you, that’s a good thing.

As a whole body of work, his new nine remixes aren’t necessarily needed, as the original songs hold their own as works of art, but they are certainly appreciated and welcomed.  Kahan’s Dial Drunk with Post Malone took TikTok by storm, garnering millions of views and listens. So much so, it’s what alerted me to Kahan in the first place, and I don’t even have TikTok. Dial Drunk is infectiously arranged by melding bluegrass banjo, modern pop kick drums, and an iconic auto-tuned Post Malone. She Calls Me Back is given a little more weight with the addition of the great Kacey Musgraves and her feminine perspective.

Lyrics

I’d like to say this album is a fun listen, but I don’t think that’s true. More so it’s a necessary listen. What Kahan has pulled off here truly puts him in a master class joined by very few. He has created a body of work that spans multiple genres. The writing on this album is incredibly beautiful yet dark and menacing at the same time, as is the world. Kahan touches on heartbreak, loss, addiction, joy, and every folk fan’s favorite, self-deprecation. His ability to evoke emotions from words is unrivaled. The beautifully somber song Orange Juice reminds me so deeply of my own, now sober, brother who has long since been home. Then there’s the haunting cry for help, Call Your Mom, with Lizzy McAlpine, detailing the need for a friend or parental figure in a very dark time in one’s personal life. Kahan brilliantly wraps up Stick Season (Forever) with Paul Revere featuring Gregory Alan Isakov, the ironic inner struggle of wanting to flee from your roots in search of something better, but for better or worse, not being able to.

Final Thoughts

Any version of Stick Season literally is a masterpiece of writing, composing, and arranging something so heavy and poignant into something so easily enjoyed and digestible. I may catch some flak because yeah, this is pop music, yeah, this is Barnes and Noble music, but there’s a reason why it’s so popular…. Because it’s folk music at its finest. Every once in a while, someone comes along and makes something truly undeniable and universally loved. Kahan has succeeded in doing just that.

It truly is the season of the sticks.

Favorite Tracks: Stick Season, Orange juice, Dial Drunk, Paul Revere

 

RootsnRevelry Grade:                           

Album Release: February 9, 2024

Label: Mercury Records/Republic Record a division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

You may also be interested in Olivia Rodrigo’s cover of Stick Season

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