“It wasn’t until I wrote the song ‘Stick Season’ after a session that I realized I was making an album,” Kahan shared with Apple Music’s Hanuman Welch. “I looked back at the rest of the tunes, and they all fit this theme about home and about isolation. Once I had three or four songs that I thought could make up an album, telling the rest of the story became very natural, and a really focused experience. I was really happy to have that narrative through line figured out early on. Those things were present before I finished, which was really nice and helpful to guide the whole process.”
Winters in New England are famously brutal. The sun vanishes, the temperatures plummet, and the world slows to a crawl. Kahan is deeply familiar with this cycle of transition and rebirth, but it wasn’t until much later that he realized how deeply he was impacted by the changing of the seasons. “Every year growing up, my entire family would really, really dread winter coming,” Kahan explains. “I had the worst times in my childhood, in my life, in the wintertime. It was always something that was foreboding, and stick season, in that time between the stunning autumn in Vermont and New Hampshire, became this cold, gray, empty place.” Those experiences are the narrative thread of Stick Season, which unfolds as equal parts eulogy and exhumation—a layer-by-layer cataloging of childhood memories, heartbreak, and resentments toward the claustrophobia of small-town living.
“When I was living at home in Vermont after high school, I was super, super lonely, obviously, but also just kind of socially not developed,” he says. “And then I thought, ‘Man, I’m alone, and that’s why I’m feeling all these terrible things.’ I moved to New York City and I felt just as alone there as I had in Vermont. I realized that what was going on was a lot of internal things that I needed to work out, a lot of problems that I had to work on in therapy, and also discover through writing some of the songs about this stuff. Finally, when I started singing about being alone and being out in Vermont, I felt like I could come to terms with some of those things.”