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  • Kate Snyder, Staff Writer

Opinion: A definitive ranking of Noah Kahan’s ‘Stick Season (Forever)’

Noah Kahan running with his dog. Art by Lucy Devlaeminck

As the summer months approach, there are a number of events that Bearcats can look forward to, including Noah Kahan’s We’ll All Be Here Forever Tour. Throughout the tour, Kahan will be visiting students’ respective hometowns, with his show closest to Salem being in Ridgefield, Washington in early July. In light of summer’s soon arrival, here is a definitive ranking of all of Kahan’s collaborative tracks from his album “Stick Season (Forever).”

Eighth: Homesick (with Sam Fender)

This might be one of my least favorite songs I’ve heard. I’ll admit that I don’t listen to a lot of the pop-folk genre or “stomp-and-holler,” as Spotify calls it, but this is foul. Fender’s verse feels very detached from the rest of the song, and this detachment is only furthered by the lack of blending between his and Kahan’s voices. Overall, I think “Homesick” was one of the only songs on the album that wasn’t bettered by a feature.

Seventh: Dial Drunk (with Post Malone)

Albeit, I’m not a huge Post Malone fan, but that isn’t why this song is ranked so low. I actually like this version of the song better than the original until it gets to Post Malone's verse. The issue with this song is the inverse of the issue with “Homesick (with Sam Fender).” It’s the content of the new verse that bothers me; the album as a whole describes Kahan’s life before fame, but the line “Drinks pouring, couldn't stop it” implies a financial freedom that Kahan didn’t have prior to fame. This contributes to the song feeling too separate from the rest of the album. 

Sixth: You’re Gonna Go Far (with Brandi Carlile)

My dislike for this song has nothing to do with the lyrics itself, just my personal experience associated with the song and my expectations for Carlile’s performance. This song reminds me of rainy October days and teary goodbyes. Not my own teary goodbyes, but watching them take place awkwardly as I’m sitting on my dorm bed debating on whether or not to reach for my Airpods. Carlile’s performance is a bit of a more objective analysis; my introduction to her was through Hozier’s track “Damage Gets Done.” I really loved her performance on that record, and compared to this song, it was underwhelming. 

Fifth: She Calls Me Back (with Kacey Musgraves)

At this point, we’ve run out of songs I actively dislike — these are just the less good of the great. Musgraves’ verse holds a great sense of relatability to me, especially knowing Bearcat Days are approaching: “I’m running out of tears to cry / They’re gone before they hit my cheeks.” I’m reminded of masking my tears while racing down the stairs of Eaton Hall after tanking my Symbolic Logic midterm, all while a group of prospective Bearcats were going up the stairs. While the memory is horribly embarrassing, I’m feeling particularly nostalgic and therefore the song lands at No. 6. 

Fourth: Call Your Mom (with Lizzy McAlpine)

First, use this as a reminder to call your family! This song reminds me of going to college and the tears that were shed as my parents left me alone for the first time. This song serves as a reminder that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. In Kahan’s experience, when love from a partner or a friend isn’t enough, love from his mother will get him through. McAlpine does an incredible job in this song and serves as an important role, playing the “character” of Kahan’s friend who is reaching out to help and reminding him of the love of his family. 

Third: Everywhere, Everything (with Gracie Abrams)

This song is one of the most splendid love songs I’ve ever heard. While Abrams’ and Kahan’s voices are juxtaposed, I find that this element works well in a song about love. It feels as though Abrams is echoing the sentiment shared by a partner. This song is also one of the more poetic songs on Kahan’s discography. A line that stuck with me is, “I wanna love you till we’re food for the worms to eat.” It is reminiscent of those photos of fossilized bodies hugging each other postmortem in an eternal embrace

Second: Northern Attitude (with Hozier)

“Northern Attitude” is a song that I feel resonates with most Portlanders, and it applies to older Willamette students — those acclimated to Oregon’s dreary climate and even more dreary population. Hozier’s addition to this track works incredibly well especially given that the artist has a track on his own album, “To Someone From A Warm Climate,” which shares a similar sentiment. 

First: Paul Revere (with Gregory Alan Isakov)

I spent a number of my summers in Maine, with the thick humid air filled with gnats and mosquitoes, the freezing, but swimmable oceans, the experience of visiting a small town, and the awkward conversation of “I’m not from around here.” This song discusses the interesting dichotomy of not resonating with a place while also being aware that it is deeply ingrained in your life through memories and mannerisms. Stylistically, Isakov’s voice works incredibly well with Kahan and is layered well enough to create simultaneous separation and attachment.

With this ranking in mind as the days get warm and summer heat looms, hopefully all Bearcats will be able to enjoy summer travels, hikes, picnics and internships with some of Noah Kahan’s folk hits as the soundtrack for the season. 

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