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Hometown helplessness: Stick Season (We’ll All Be Here Forever) Review


Artist: Noah Kahan
Label: Republic Records, Mercury Records
Producer: Noah Kahan, Gabe Simon
Release date: June 9, 2023
Rating: 4/5

As New England nears summer, Noah Kahan drags listeners back to a desolate space between fall and winter with the extended release of the 2022 album “Stick Season”.

The deluxe album, titled “Stick Season (We’ll All Be Here Forever)” expands on the original release with seven new tracks, including the TikTok sensation “Dial Drunk”. Whereas the original release is full of bitterness for those who have moved away from their hometown, the new tracks describe the emotions that come with letting go of that resentment.

“Let’s go back to New England, or the Midwest, or wherever we’re from and romanticize our hometowns,” Kahan said in a social media post. “Let’s shed our shame and our guilt and our pain and return to ourselves for a little while. Let’s all be here forever.”

As a New Englander living at home, this album is extremely relatable. For context, I’m from a town in Massachusetts where my entire extended family resides. My grandparents’ grandparents immigrated here, and for over a hundred years, nobody has found a reason to leave. Sometimes, it feels like motivation: a reason to work hard and pave my own future, regardless of my ancestors. Other times, it feels like purgatory.

Perhaps this is the reason I deeply resonate with the track “Paul Revere”. In the song, Kahan dreams of a different future: one where he escapes, makes it big, and never looks back. He laments,

“One day I’m gonna cut it clear/ Ride like Paul Revere/ And when they ask me who I am/ I’ll say, ‘I’m not from around here’”.

Unfortunately for the narrator, that’s all this future is: just a dream that gets him through. In the last verse, he recognizes that,

“If I could leave, I would have already left”.

This is a sentiment I have heard shared by many small town residents. To many, the lucky ones who manage to make it out of their home towns are few and far between. In response to the release, one Twitter user wrote, “Paul Revere made me feel seen and a little alive.” The song is a battle, a constant push and pull between what the singer wants versus what he can not have. The dichotomy between Kahan’s fantasy and reality is what makes the track so relatable to listeners like myself.

“No Complaints” is another new standout. In what feels like a direct continuation of “Paul Revere”, Kahan expresses the guilt he feels for wanting something more. He convinces himself that he has everything he needs, and that he is undeserving of the future he dreams about. Instead of letting the envy and anger consume him, he turns to medication and self depreciation to numb the pain.

Easily the most anticipated release is the aforementioned “Dial Drunk”. Kahan is at his best when he channels his anger and frustration into his work. This song, which feels like a fast-paced punch to the face, describes the pain of depending on someone who has moved on. The chorus – which has garnered 4.7 million views upon upload to TikTok – includes the devastating lines,

“It rang and rang, even the cops thought you were wrong for hanging up / I’ll dial drunk, I’ll die a drunk, I’ll die for you”.

An aspect of Kahan’s music that sets him apart from other artists is his willingness to share his ongoing journey with mental health. His vulnerability shines through with the track, “Call Your Mom”, in which he delicately urges the listener to share their struggles, and find healthy coping mechanisms. He sings,

“Don’t let this darkness fool you / All lights turned off can be turned on”.

His advocacy for mental health awareness goes beyond his music: recently, the artist launched The Busyhead Project, an initiative to raise $1 million for mental health organizations during the duration of his North American tour.

Completing Kahan’s journey of self-discovery is the track, “You’re Gonna Go Far”. In it, he expresses his excitement for a loved one who managed to move away. He acknowledges the guilt that many feel for leaving the place they love behind but urges them to do what is best for their future. The song recognizes how hard it is for some to leave the people they love, especially when it’s not easily accepted in their community. However, he reiterates that no one is indebted to their hometown, and everyone deserves a chance at a different life.

In opposition to many of the other deluxe tracks, Kahan himself is not the focus of this song. It almost feels as though he is speaking to his younger self (or maybe, the self at the center of the previous tracks). As he speaks to the listener, he is also reiterating to himself that everything will work out. The penultimate track is a glimmer of hope on an album otherwise shrouded in darkness.

“Stick Season (We’ll All Be Here Forever)” adds another layer of depth to an already well-received album. The seven new tracks establish a truth that long-time listeners already knew: Noah Kahan is not afraid to get ugly. Throughout the new tracks, Kahan explores the difficult emotions that come with watching others experience a future you’re doomed to merely witness. It’s a grieving process: he feels guilt, resentment, acceptance, and everything in between. It’s messy, it’s brutal, and it’s all very real.

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About the Contributor
Grace Doyle
Grace Doyle, Associate Producer: #THAT
Grace Doyle is a senior 3+1 film, television, and media arts major from Dedham, Massachusetts. She works as production assistant on campus and has interned with 7News WHDH-TV and Tuff Gong Worldwide. She is an Associate Producer on #THAT and has previously served as a Music and Television Beat Reporter for Q30TV.

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