Noah Kahan: The Voice of Nostalgic New Englanders

Exploring the depths of Kahan's musical influence.

by Nouman Rasool
Noah Kahan: The Voice of Nostalgic New Englanders
© Ilya S. Savenok/GettyImages

2023 is seeing a resurgence of a musical genre fondly referred to by many as “stomp clap hey”. While in the past, the style has been synonymous with bands like The Lumineers and Mumford & Sons, it’s 26-year-old Noah Kahan who is now leading its revival.

But to his fans, his music is more than just a style; it encapsulates the soul of Vermont and New England. Born in Strafford, Vermont and schooled just over the border in New Hampshire, Kahan's journey is emblematic of many from the region.

His single “Stick Season,” which went viral on TikTok, alludes to that brief Vermont period between the fall of the leaves and the onset of snow. It’s a song that mirrors the sentiments of young adults, caught between the reminiscence of their hometown and the apprehensions of an uncertain future.

Kahan shared with Billboard his passion for New England, describing it as a place with a unique blend of challenges and tranquility. His music encapsulates these dualities, resonating particularly with the young who connect deeply with their northern New England roots.

Kahan's Impact on Mental Health

Kahan's songs, including hits like “Homesick” and “Call Your Mom,” traverse the themes of nostalgia, longing, and therapeutic reflection. His lyrics often highlight struggles with mental health, creating a profound impact on many of his listeners.

It's no surprise then that his charity, the Busyhead Project, has raised almost $2 million for mental health awareness and resources. His concerts, as detailed by Vulture’s Rebecca Alter, are a testament to his broad appeal.

Attendees range from mothers and daughters to “softboys,” all resonating deeply with his music. Despite the somber tones, the ambiance reflects a sense of belonging and shared experiences. Aris Sherwood, a 23-year-old from Rutland, emphasized how Kahan's music accurately captures the spirit of Vermont.

Another fan, Amanda Nielsen, said Kahan's music bridges the distance between her current home in Colorado and her roots in Vermont. However, Vermont is not just about picturesque sceneries and serene atmospheres. It has its share of challenges, from homelessness to climate-change-induced flooding.

Fox Winters, a local from Montpelier, aptly points out the dichotomy of Vermont, which is simultaneously being commodified and cherished. In an era of shifting tastes and fleeting musical trends, Kahan’s music stands out, not just for its melody, but for its ability to echo the hearts and souls of a generation.

Whether listeners will look back with fondness or slight embarrassment remains to be seen. However, for now, Kahan's melodies serve as anthems for many, a voice for the Vermonters, capturing their essence and evoking their nostalgia.