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The Noah Kahan Music Universe: The Folk Avengers

It is no secret that folk music is once again topping the charts. A genre once led by musical greats like Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, and Cat Stevens is making a powerful comeback through the music of many contemporary artists. Folk music is by no means a stranger to the “mainstream.” The Lumineers’ song “Hey Ho” spent over a year on the Billboard Hot 100 back in 2012 and Hozier’s indie-folk music has drawn a loyal fanbase for the past decade. What makes the recent dominance of this music genre so notable is the collection of artists who have come together to make it happen. There has been a recent trend of both up-and-coming and well-established artists joining forces to take the music world by storm. As these artists have assembled together to form a musical Avengers of sorts, Noah Kahan stands out as their leading Iron Man. 


A Vermont native, Kahan signed with Republic Records in 2017 and had his breakout moment through the song “Hurt Somebody” which was featured on his debut 2019 album Busyhead. However, it wasn’t until his most recent album Stick Season that Kahan and his banjo truly found chart-topping domination. This third album debuted at number 14 on the Billboard 200 Album Chart and in June the deluxe version of the album jumped to number 3 on the chart. 


Kahan’s music bleeds authenticity. The majority of the tracks on his most recent album “Stick Season” rely on just Kahan’s raw voice and an acoustic guitar. This stripped-back production style has grown in popularity among artists like Lizzie McAlpine and Gracie Abrams. In place of a catchy beat or over-produced backtrack, these songs allow the intimacy of the lyrics to fill the space. Kahan speaks to a new generation of young adults who look to his music to find comfort in the loneliness of growing up. Through vulnerable detailed lyrics, Kahan avoids the clichés of songwriting while still connecting with his growing audience.  


It doesn't take much listening to Kahan’s music to learn two things: New England is the best place in the world (or maybe the worst) and everything is better when done together. 


The first lesson speaks to Kahan’s strong Vermont roots. In a similar way that country singers romanticize pick-up trucks, strong whisky, and country roads, Kahan highlights the historic villages, harsh winters, and hearty spirit of New England that we all love to hate. 


The second lesson, on partnership, is made clear through collaborations that bring even more depth to some of Kahan’s already gut-wrenching songs. Up-and-coming singer Lizzie McAlpine lends her voice to “Call Your Mom”. Post Malone features his talents on “Dial Drunk" demonstrating the reason for his “Folk Malone" nickname. Most recently, Kahan was featured on Zach Bryan’s single “Sarah’s Place” which debuted on the Billboard at number 14. Back in August, Folk/Indie artist Hozier brought Kahan on stage during a concert to sing his well-loved “Work Song” which sparked fan excitement and hopes for future collaboration. After the show, Kahan took to social media referring to the night as “the greatest moment of [his] life” stating that, “this man's music has brought so much joy and inspiration to my life. Wouldn’t exist as an artist without him." 


It doesn’t end there. Earlier this month Kahan announced his next collaboration will be with Kasey Musgraves who will be featured on his well-loved track “She Calls Me Back.” Musgraves is a well-known country singer who will hopefully add a unique sound to the song. 


These collaborations owe much of their success to TikTok where many of these songs are born. Kahan boasts over 1.5 million followers on the platform and often uses the app to hard launch previews of his upcoming songs and collaborations. A preview clip of the song “Dial Drunk” from the extended album “We’ll All Be Here Forever” garnered millions of views on Tiktok and created a frenzy of fan anticipation ahead of the album release. Not only do these snippets of songs allow listeners to get a sneak peek ahead of the release, but also enable them to incorporate the song into their own videos and connect to the lyrics on a personal level. This has no doubt helped Kahan reach a wider audience and connect with more musicians. 


Joining forces with other artists to remix tracks or develop new songs is something musicians have been doing since the beginning of time. However, Kahan's array of choices in partners has not only continued to elevate his career but also formed an assembly of musicians worthy of a superhero movie. Kahan will continue to spearhead this new wave of folk music sensation when he kicks off his We'll All Be Here Forever Tour on March 26, 2024. 

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