(Photo Manipulation by Alexandra Kauffman)

Only a special type of songwriter can transcend two-dimensional emotions and take listeners on a complicated journey, engulfing them in feelings humans barely know how to comprehend. Noah Kahan’s newest album, “Stick Season (Forever),” which was released on TKTK, achieves this. The 30-track deluxe album captures the sentiment of trying to leave behind the people and places that once made someone who they are, giving listeners the experience of coping and growing with these emotions.

“Stick Season (Forever)” is the final extension of Kahan’s hit album “Stick Season” (2022). He also released “Stick Season (We’ll All Be Here Forever)” in 2023. Together, the three albums tell the painful, yet promising, story of yearning to move on from homesickness and the comfort of life once known while highlighting the beauty in stagnancy. The newest album features three new songs: “Forever”, “You’re Gonna Go Far (with Brandi Carlile)” and “Paul Revere (with Gregory Alan Isakov).”

While Kahan’s solo version of “You’re Gonna Go Far” (2023) is nothing short of brilliant, his new version in collaboration with Carlile takes the song to new heights. The song details the painful partition between two lovers as one leaves the couple’s hometown and old life to move onto new things. Delicate instruments that slowly become heavier and build up throughout the song beautifully complement Kahan’s soft voice, emulating the development of powerful emotions that come with saying goodbye. Kahan’s heart seems heavy yet full of hope for his lover’s future as he says, “We ain’t angry at you, love / You’re the greatest thing we’ve lost.”

Kahan’s strong yet purposeful voice, combined with Carlile’s equally steadfast feminine vocals, paints the picture of two parting lovers. Carlile adds passion to the line “Who the hell likes / livin’ just to die?,” bringing out the bright side that comes with change. Her voice, doused in subtle conflicting emotions, compels listeners to see the promise of a new future while still feeling the sorrow of leaving comfort behind.

I resonated the most with “Forever.” The song starts to take a clear positive perspective on the inability to let go of comfort. It uncovers the overlooked beauty that comes with watching one’s love grow from an unchanging perspective.

Kahan’s voice is especially delicate and almost ethereal as he reaches the content, almost serene, realization. Halfway through the song, the instrumentals shift from sullen to lighthearted, reflecting the artist’s epiphany. His nostalgic, longing tone unearths hints of hope and optimism as he sings, “Now I’m glad I get forever to / see where you end.” Kahan realizes that “Forever” is a chance to appreciate a person who once brought him joy, as that person embarks on a journey of change.

In tune with the rest of the album, the final track, “Paul Revere (with Gregory Alan Isakov),” is a bittersweet acceptance of Kahan’s inability to move on. A fragile ambiance accompanies the artist and Isakov’s voices as they fantasize about commencing a path of transformation but realize they cannot let go of the comfort of their current lives. Isakov’s emotive voice perfectly complements the complicated range of pain, comfort and acceptance this song displays.

After a harrowing and simultaneously beautiful story of dealing with change, Kahan establishes that he is content with it in the final track The album sheds light on a dilemma that many, including myself, feel in the deepest parts of our souls. He brings positivity to the somber themes covered in the album by reassuring those who have had to bear the burden and complexity of homesickness. Kahan’s album unites these difficult emotions, transforming them into something harmonious.

Though this album tugs on listeners’ heartstrings, it is worth listening to when one is feeling lost or simply wanting a hug.

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