Written by: Megan Langley
The past couple of years have been a pretty wild ride, to say the least, for Noah Kahan. The Vermont-based musician signed a deal with Republic Records with not even three songs out, and released his debut EP “Hurt Somebody” on the label in 2018 (not to mention the title track from that EP has quickly become one of his biggest hits, gaining some major radio play as of late). Following these releases were national tours, including an opening slot for James Bay in North America earlier this year, and even headlining tours throughout North America & Europe last year. After touring worldwide and dropping a few more singles along the way, Noah has released his long-awaited debut album, “Busyhead.”
The main thing on this album that made it stand out to me (and the main thing that makes Noah stand out so much as a musician) is how Noah openly speaks about his experiences in the music industry and conveys his emotions through the lyrics and topics discussed in his songs.
Lead single “Cynic” is one of the best examples of this, pointing out multiple things, from the romanticisation, glorification and glamorization of mental health in the media and how mental health needs to be destigmatized (“this is who we are, there’s no glamour to it”) to the effects that being in the music or entertainment industry can have on one’s well-being (“The Hollywood sign don’t catch my eye much anymore”).
Opener “False Confidence” tackles the pressure of trying to be someone you’re not in order to fit in, losing (and eventually finding) yourself and your true identity. Immediately following that is the hit single “Mess,” which talks a bit about Noah’s transition from living in a small town in Vermont to consistently travelling and touring all around the world, his experiences visiting home after being away from it for so long, and shows the singer questioning if he’d prefer to stay at home and whether or not that would make him feel happier (“If I could give this all back, I would be home in the morning/”I'd wake up in a cold sweat”/Take a flight back to the city I was born in… With all my bitterness gone, happy, I'd be”).
“Hurt Somebody” and “Sink” both center around love and relationships. Acoustically led title track “Busyhead” offers another perspective on mental health, particularly talking about someone being lost inside their own thoughts, while “Young Blood” is, in a way, a letter from Noah to himself that mentions a variety of things - from opening up about his experiences with depression and anxiety (“And if you want, I could tell the truth/That this life takes a toll on you/I spend nights stitching up the loose threads in my soul”) to reminding himself to stay true to himself and his own path in the industry, and to remain humble and try to stay positive when things get tough (So, keep your time, keep your mind, keep humble/Start your life in the middle of the jungle/You young, young blood/Rub your eyes, be surprised, keep hungry/Stay alive, try to lose all of your money”). Concluding the album is the emotional closing track “Carlo’s Song,” a tribute to a friend of Noah’s who had passed away. The verses show Noah reminiscing on the times the two of them had together (“Do you remember drinking in the parking lot by the trailhead?... We walk in the same direction, but we both got lost and you raged in my impatience”) while the bridge discusses a part of grief (“They say don't know who I am anymore/Well, I just have never shown anger before”) and the choruses show how Noah is keeping Carlo’s legacy alive.
Noah Kahan’s debut album is full of emotion and honesty, shown throughout the album in both the performances and the lyrics. It truly shows not only that, but also how much promise and potential he has as an artist, and proves the fact that he is going to go far in this career, and the release of Busyhead only marks the beginning of his journey. Check out Busyhead on all music platforms now! https://noahkahan.lnk.to/Busyhead