Noah Kahan: “Stick Season (We’ll All Be Here Forever) Album Review
Do you want to take an epic musical journey that puts you on an emotional roller coaster? To listen to an album that can make you nod your head with the beat of one song, then have you sobbing to the next one, followed directly by yelling out the lyrics in anger to the one after that? If so, I cannot recommend Noah Kahan’s deluxe album, Stick Season (We’ll All Be Here Forever) enough. Stick Season itself is beyond incredible and worth 100 out of 10 stars. But that deluxe version? I’m pretty sure it has hit every single person that’s given it a listen right in their feels. And has a stranglehold on their heart and emotions. Plus, it feels a hell of a lot like therapy wrapped into 21 songs. So keep reading for my review!
Growing up in upstate New York has never felt extremely exciting. When I tell people I’m from upstate New York, they always assume Syracuse (which is actually central New York). So, I have to explain myself by saying I’m in the Adirondack Mountains right next to the Canadian border. And get about six months of winter in my area. It’s the definition of small-town. And there have been so many times in my life that I’ve hated it. I wished I could live somewhere else. But then I travel, and even if it’s just for the weekend, I always get excited to come home. This one had me moving my head with the beat for sure.
Every one of Noah’s lyrics can be taken apart and dissected. And I could tell you how each word impacts me like a strike right to my soul. But if I do that, this article will go on forever and I’ll lose you somewhere along the way. So if I absolutely have to pick a part that makes me want to scream the lyrics? I would have to say it’s, “If I get too close. And I’m not how you hoped. Forgive my northern attitude. Oh, I was raised out in the cold.”. Because here up north, we absolutely have a different kind of attitude. And it definitely has a lot to do with being raised out in the cold. However you interpret that.
The title track of Stick Season. There’s just something about it. From the beat to the lyrics to the haunting melody of Noah’s voice combined with the vulnerability he is able to convey through every song. If you can sit through this song without moving your body or closing your eyes and feeling the emotion, I’ll be convinced that you don’t have a heart. Especially if you did grow up in a small town. And by small town, I mean graduating high school with a class of less than twenty-five. And having that be considered large. Where the main activity is drinking somewhere in the woods with as many people as you can. The frustration of small-town living and expectations always come out for me with this one.
It hits me on a lot of different levels. Losing someone and having to see them or members of their family pretty frequently because you do live in such a small place. Being one who doesn’t go away for college and just sitting and waiting for your friends to come back home for Christmas break. Trying to escape others’ expectations of who you are and who you can be. Or even growing up with a father who couldn’t escape his alcoholism and feeling like others expect the same to happen to you. So you know I’m screaming out “So I thought that if I piled something good on all my bad that I could cancel out the darkness I inherited from Dad.”.
All My Love
Forgiveness is never an easy thing. Especially when it involves forgiving someone who broke our hearts. In whatever capacity, it’s hard to look back on those memories and not feel that same heartbreak over and over. Hell, it’s hard not to look back on those memories period. Especially when you’re faced with the places those memories were made on a daily basis. Even more, than forgiveness, Noah extends the offer of still being there for that person if they ever need them. And that takes a lot of courage and heart. So you know I’m starting to get emotional with this one.
There’s also the line that Noah often jokes about after saying. You know the one. “My folks still talk but they speak in these two-word sentences.”. Followed by him saying his parents are divorced. So the lyrics, “It’s all okay there ain’t a drop of bad blood, it’s all my love. You got all my love.” you know I’m screaming that one out with all the emotion I have. I’ll admit there is usually a fist pump that goes along with that one too. At least I’ve been able to witness that I’m not the only one to do that.
She Calls Me Back
Losing a connection and telling ourselves that as long as they call us back, everything will be fine. As long as we still have that connection and can keep that relationship alive, even from afar, everything’s alright. This one gets me nostalgic and thinking about people I’ve known that have moved on to different places and left our small town behind without a second glance back. Along with thinking about how in all the time they’ve been gone, this town hasn’t changed a bit.
The line “Does it bite at your edges? Do you lie awake restless? Why am I so obsessive? Hangin’ onto every sentence. This town’s the same as you left it. Your page was blank, but I read it.” never fails to get me amped up. We’ve all been there. When someone we care for leaves our town and we feel left behind, wondering if they’re thinking about us the way we’re thinking about them. While at the same time wondering why we can’t stop thinking about them and analyzing everything they say. Maybe hoping to find a hint of them trying to tell us they want to come back as much as we want them to be back.
How many times as kids did we look at a house and see a face? So many of us struggle with anxiety or depression and even for those of us that don’t, it’s hard not to think about wanting to be the one people want when listening to this song. No matter where you live, whether it’s a small town or a huge city, growing up is never easy. Finding who we are and discovering ourselves is a journey. A long and really hard journey. So when you hear the vulnerability and vocal control in Noah’s voice for the entire Stick Season album and especially when he sings these lyrics, it’s hard not to think back on that journey and reflect. To have all those old feelings find their way back to the surface. And now I’m sobbing.
In case you didn’t guess, this song absolutely has me singing/crying the lyrics “Someday I’m gonna be somebody people want.”. Because at the end of the day, I think that’s what so many of us want. And it’s not just about being wanted. It’s about someone wanting us for exactly who we are. Whether it be as a friend or something more. We all at one point or another wanted to be “cool” or to be the house that everyone else wanted to be at. As we get deeper into the album, Noah continues to reach deep into our souls and yank at the emotional strings of our childhoods and remind us of all the things we felt, good and bad. And I’m going to send him my therapy bill for this emotional damage.
Ahh, towns with one gas station, one school for grades kindergarten through twelfth grade. Towns that require you to drive at least 15 minutes before you get to anything that even resembles what the term “downtown” actually means. One thing I love about music is that it can be interpreted so differently by everyone who listens to it. And one of the things this song had me feeling was about when some people leave their home behind and go off and do great things, but then forget about the town they came from. Or act as if that small town and the people within it aren’t worth their time anymore now that they have gone off to do bigger and better things. So there’s some nostalgia in this one along with frustration about those who leave and pretend it’s not the place they came from.
This one has a few sections that us fans feel passionately about. And one of those lyrics that all us “New England” kids seem to feel the strongest is “The intersection got a Target and now they’re calling it downtown.”. Because when you live in a town that really doesn’t have any stores, it’s kind of a big deal when they do eventually get one. To the point where they then consider where that store is to be the downtown section of where you live. Even if you live in the type of town that if you’re driving through and blink, you’re past it.
Now this one hits me with the first lyric and every single one after it until the end. There are so many lyrics within this song that I’ve had the good fortune of seeing so many fans react to in such honest ways. “It’s been a long year.”. “Drive slowly, I know every route in this county. Maybe that ain’t such a bad thing. I’ll tell you where not to speed.”. To see the raw emotion and vulnerability in others while hearing it from Noah is such an experience. It’s almost indescribable. Which all goes into why this song has me uncontrollably weeping every single time I blast it in my car and sing my heart out.
To love someone so deeply, genuinely, and with our whole hearts that we can’t imagine being away from them, even after we’re gone. It’s a truly beautiful concept that never fails to have me tearing up and thinking about those I love so dearly. But if I’m being honest, every song on Stick Season has me feeling that way. Though the lyrics in this song “Everywhere, everything, wanna love you till we’re food for the worms to eat. Till our fingers decompose, keep my hands in yours.” really gets me choked up with emotions.
Just when you think Stick Season can’t get better, this song comes along and hits me in the heart. Growing up with a father who couldn’t overcome his addiction to alcohol and never truly getting closure with him before he died from it was a myriad of emotions. Then getting to have a stepfather who has been sober for such a long time, to see someone who has overcome it and come out the other side of it stronger puts this song up there pretty high on my ultimate favorites list. While this entire album is an emotional roller coaster, this song by itself is multiple fast-paced loop de loops on that roller coaster. To sing the lyrics allows so much of those feelings I thought long gone to rise to the surface. It allows a cathartic and healing release even after all this time.
While I will admit to pretty much screaming every word of this song out at the top of my lungs, there are a couple of lyrics that hit me harder than the rest, and tend to have more emotion than the rest when I am scream singing them. “My heart has changed and my soul has changed.” along with “You didn’t put those bones in the ground.” always hit me on a different level. And dammit Noah Kahan. You’ve found a way to dig deep within us and pull out emotions to things we thought we were done dealing with and force us to process through them in a way we never have before.
It’s a beautiful and tragic love story told in four minutes and forty-six seconds. It’s one of those songs that creates a whole story in my head and has me picturing people from my own life playing the starring roles. A song that brings back heartwarming memories of people that are no longer with me with its haunting sound. It’s a song that makes it clear Noah has bared his own soul to all of us with Stick Season. He’s laid it all out for us with no hesitation and showed us just some parts of what makes him who he is.
The one lyric that always gets at least a few tears streaming is “No thing defines a man, like love that makes him soft and sentimental like a stranger in the park.” because it just reminds me of my grandparents. I think just because my grandfather was just this larger-than-life figure for me growing up and yet was always so soft for my grandmother. He loved her so deeply and so clearly that even when I was too young to really understand what true love was, it was so clear that it was what they had. So this song makes me think back to them and how much I miss having them here.
If Orange Juice and Strawberry Wine have me crying, Growing Sideways has me angry crying. And ugly crying. The entire time. We all need someone we can show the darkest parts of ourselves. And sometimes it’s necessary for that person to be a professional. Noah has made it clear he feels everyone could benefit from therapy. And I’m more than a little inclined to agree. And not just because I’m a counselor myself. But because I’ve seen the positive effects therapy can have. Even those who don’t typically struggle with mental health or trauma. It never hurts to have someone we can vent to without judgment.
This is yet another song on Stick Season that I can put all my emotions into every word. But if I had to pick one that really hits me deeply, I would have to go with “I’m still angry at my parents for what their parents did to them.”. It speaks of generational trauma and how what one’s parents do to them can cause them to unintentionally do the same to their kids. And from my own experience, looking at how my father was raised, it’s easy to be angry with his parents for what they put him through. To understand some of the reasons behind his actions. But it also allows me to feel pride in myself and my sister for being able to break that cycle, take that trauma, and turn it into ways to help others.
Honestly, at this point in Stick Season, my face is a mess. So definitely wear waterproof makeup when listening to Stick Season. If you even dare to wear makeup at all. I certainly don’t. Because at this point I’m absolutely wrecked. It’s a softer and quieter song that has perfect crescendos and lyrics that stick with you long after the song ends. It’s one that I tend to listen to on repeat at times because of the way it hits me.
The entire song is a beautiful and emotion-invoking creation. Though the line “But the wreckage of you, I no longer reside in. And the bridges have long since been burned.” always hits me deep. While it’s not the intended message, the beauty of Noah Kahan’s music is that the lyrics invoke something different in everyone. That line takes me back to my father and moving on from the wreckage of him. Being able to forgive and move on from all we went through. This song is cathartic and healing and has an almost ethereal rhythm to it. No pun intended.
The beat changes up a bit for this one and we start on what feels like an upswing from the past the other songs reminded us of. And it takes us back to that frustration of small-town living. It reminds us of “what could have been” and makes us think of the times we thought about leaving but couldn’t convince ourselves to go. Or maybe even leaving that town and then coming back for a few days and having it feel like we never left. Sometimes the thing with smaller towns is that it can feel like time is at a standstill. That we aren’t sticking with the times or progressing. But the truth of it is there are plenty of reasons why we stay.
We say things like “Well, I’m tired of dirt roads named after high school friends’ grandfathers.” but, at least for me, there are times when I love living in a small town and wouldn’t change it for the world. Even if it can get frustrating at times. But you know I will always shout the line “I’m mean because I grew up in New England.” with everything I have because you’re damn right that’s why I have the attitude I do and why I’m mean.
Coming down from the excitement of the last song Still has us right back where we started. Emotional and teary-eyed. No one plays a drinking game that involves taking a drink every time Noah’s Stick Season gets you all caught up in your feels. Because you won’t even be able to make it halfway through without feeling it. Noah Kahan has taken his own life experiences and somehow found a way to express things that so many of us have been through and dealt with. It’s a magical and unexpected journey. Once I start, I don’t ever want it to end, no matter how emotional it makes me.
There’s just something about the lyric “Don’t know whether you want a place in the coast or the country.” that always makes me think. Because so many of us had that moment in time when we were contemplating going somewhere different. Maybe somewhere bigger or busier that we thought would have more opportunities for us. But then we think about where we came from and as we get older, so many of us think of all the things we appreciate about where we grew up. Why we do actually love it, despite all of its flaws. So that hesitation of not quite knowing where we want to put those roots down is so relatable and understandable.
The View Between Villages
If and or when we do leave our hometown, we usually come home fairly often. Depending on if we have family there and other variables, of course. But if we are in a situation where we return to that town, there are always so many feelings that make themselves known as we enter the familiar territory. Even if it’s just coming home from a vacation. Sometimes that familiarity hits us like a warm blanket. And other times it gets us thinking about all the things that frustrate us with that town and we almost want to turn around and leave all over again.
“A minute from home, but I feel so far from it. The death of my dog, the stretch of my skin. It’s all washin’ over me, I’m angry again. The things that I lost here, the people I knew. They got me surrounded for a mile or two.”. It gets me. Every. Single. Time. The way the music crescendos and Noah puts so much emotion into the words. I can’t ever help but to do the same thing. And I’m not even a person that has left my hometown for any great length of time. There’s still so much emotion that gets evoked by the words.
Your Needs, My Needs
I’ve had so much time to learn all of the words and gain an understanding of the lyrics from all the original songs on Stick Season. But with all of the snippets Noah gave us on TikTok, there was at least time to listen to the chorus of each of these new songs over and over again. And the chorus of this one? WOW! Noah went hard and put everything he had into it. Something that is so easy to feel and hear as he lets loose. My jaw dropped the first time I heard it. But now I find myself going just as hard with the lyrics when it comes on and I love and feel every freaking word. The lyrics call right to my heart.
While I’m in love with the chorus and just how hard it hits, I also really love this line. “And the pain that I am in it’s all the same. The losing touch, the waiting game.” There are so many parts of our lives that cause pain. Every time I listen to this one, there are a few specific things I think of and the thought of them always brings that pain back to the surface no matter how deep I think I’ve buried it. So when that chorus does come up, I’m able to really let that pain come out with the song.
While this one has a more upbeat sound, don’t let it fool you. Listen to those lyrics and even if you’ve never been in the exact situation Noah is talking about, I’m sure the words are going to get you thinking of at least one specific situation. For me, it takes me back to times when I’ve stuck up for someone that probably wouldn’t do the same for me. Or someone who has changed and is no longer who I thought they once were.
To me, punches don’t always have to be literal and physical punches. They can be verbal punches that we throw out in defense of someone that we don’t even know anymore. Someone that our loyalty sticks around for even when or if that person doesn’t deserve it. So when the line “I ain’t proud of all the punches that I’ve thrown in the name of someone I no longer know.” comes out, I found myself going a little harder with it than the rest of the song. Especially because I do tend to be someone who goes to bat for those I care about. Even if they may not be the person I thought they were.
While these seven new songs absolutely fit the vibe of the rest of Stick Season, there is also a little something different added to them. I haven’t put my finger on just what it is about them yet. When it comes to this one it just has this feeling of someone leaving their hometown behind. Then coming back after such a long time that there are people they don’t know living in the town. And while all the memories are hitting them about this place they called home, others are wondering who they are
The lyrics that stick with me from this song are “And when they ask me who I am I’ll say, I’m not from around here.”. Sometimes it’s just easier and simpler not to offer an explanation about our history. To start over fresh and create a new beginning. Even as we may be remembering all of the different things that happened in all the different places in that town. Sometimes there is just something that brings us back home and doesn’t allow us to leave again.
And I’m back to being an emotional wreck with this one. So often we go through difficult times and tell ourselves that we’re fine. We bury those feelings deep and convince ourselves that they don’t matter. Or that we can deal with them on our own and don’t need to talk to anyone about them. But one way or another, that pain always finds a way out and it can be in a lot of different ways. Maybe we take that anger out on someone around us, or we try to find a way to express it, like writing it down. But one way or another, it always comes out.
A few of the lyrics that really get me in this song are “I get mad at nothing. Blame my dad for something.” “I saw the end, it looks just like the middle. Got a paper and pen and a page with no space.” “And now the pain’s different. It still exists, it just escapes different.”. There are so many things in life that bring us pain. This song reminds us that we can try to avoid that pain as much as we want to, but eventually, we are going to have to deal with it.
Call Your Mom
Depression, anxiety, and all mental health issues impact us in different ways. Some of us may not experience them ourselves directly. But most of us know someone who does. It could be a best friend, a co-worker, a family member, or even just an acquaintance. Depending on how close we are to that person affects how directly impacted we are by those mental health struggles. When it comes to someone we are close to that is struggling and we are doing our best to encourage and support them, it can put us in a position of feeling helpless. And feeling like we will do anything to make sure we are there for them and offering them any support we can.
I have a few people I’m extremely close to that struggle with anxiety and I can’t help but think of them when I hear the lyrics of this song. As with many of the songs on Stick Season. Especially the lines “Stayed on the line with you the entire night till you let it out and let it in.”. “All lights turned off can be turned on.”. Because if they need me, I’m going to be there. I’m going to stay on the phone with them until I get there and let them know they aren’t alone and I’m going to help them and be there for them in any way I can.
You’re Gonna Go Far
Whether you leave for college, leave for good, or stay behind while someone you love does the leaving, this song is going to have you right in your emotions about it. Because no matter where you go or how long you stay away, those back home are still going to love you and no one who matters is going to be upset with you doing what you need to do for you. Those who love you only want you to be happy and for you to do what’s best for yourself. If that includes leaving, then follow your heart and go.
As I get older and do my best to become more understanding of those around me and what makes them happy, I can’t help but root for them and be proud of them for pursuing their dreams. Even if it is someone I’m sad to be saying goodbye to and don’t know when or if I will see them again. I would never want them to be anything less than honest with me and true to themselves. So the lyrics “Say whatever you feel, be wherever you are. We ain’t angry at you, love, you’re the greatest thing we’ve lost.”. hits me as being exactly how I feel. For real, Noah, you’re going to be responsible for all of these therapy bills.
The View Between Villages (Extended)
It’s fitting that The View Between Villages was the last song on Stick Season and the extended version is the last on the deluxe album. And if the original song didn’t hit you in the feels, first of all, what’s wrong with you? Secondly, the extended version will definitely get you. On top of some added lyrics, there are also some voices from Strafford, Vermont that will have you tearing up. They certainly did me.
“Left at the graveyard, I’m driving past ghosts. Their arms are extended, my eyes start to close.”. Come on, Noah! Why do you have to hit us with lyrics like that?! The song was emotional enough. But I do have to admit that there was no better way to close out Stick Season. And that album will be one that I continue listening to over and over again. One that I will continue to allow to put me in my feels and experience different phases of my life over and over again.
There truly aren’t enough words to express the gratitude that I have experienced in listening to Stick Season and Stick Season (We’ll All Be Here Forever). Noah Kahan has provided us with something truly extraordinary and so many pieces of himself. He’s laid himself bare and vulnerable before us while providing all of us New England kids with an album that speaks to our hearts and expresses our experiences in a way no one has ever been able to do for us before. So thank you, Noah. And I can’t wait to see what you come out with next.
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