The smaller the town, the bigger the story…

Good luck finding cell service in singer-songwriter Noah Kahan’s tiny hometown of Strafford,

Reception is nearly non-existent, but that doesn’t seem to bother the 1,000 residents that call this peaceful countryside hamlet home. The town’s sentiment of relishing in isolation is evident at the Kahan household, a 133 acre tree farm at the end of a steep dirt road, nestled in the rolling Vermont hills. The weather is harsh at times, idyllic at others, and a constant exercise in extremes. The seclusion provokes imagination but also imposes an earnestness that's rooted in Noah’s music and perspective.

Of his songwriting and his surroundings, Kahan explains “My music plays on an introspective space. I've learned about the realities of being in the real world but being in the countryside holds a lot of nostalgia for me. I try to capture that. I’m just telling stories while being heartfelt.

Small town wonderment led Noah to explore songwriting early on, emulating musical influences like Paul Simon, Ben Howard, and The Lumineers. He writes with thought-provoking realism about self-doubt and fear while highlighting the intricacies of relationships with an unpolished sincerity. That approach, along with head-turning vocals, has brought Noah a long way from Strafford in a very short time. As a senior in high school, Noah’s unique take on the world and his knack for crafting a captivating story attracted the attention of world-class songwriters Dan Wilson (Adele), Scott Harris (Shawn Mendes), Chris DeStefano (Carrie Underwood), among others. Word spreads quickly within the songwriting community and Noah soon became a welcomed collaborator of its inner circle.

In 2016, the 20-year-old attracted GRAMMY® Award-winning super producer Joel Little (Lorde, Khalid). The two recorded six songs together which have since been released periodically throughout 2017 via Republic Records. Debut single“Young Blood” entered Spotify’s US Viral Chart at #5, and quickly cracked over 9 million streams.

“Joel really pushed the music to a level that I never imagined it could go,” continues Noah. “He saw that the songs needed to be special. He really helped me achieve a unique sound. We wrote so much together, and we found an amazing groove.”

They honed that groove to perfection on the break out single “Hurt Somebody.” Propelled by lithe acoustic guitars, an unpredictable rhythm, and an impressive vocal range, the song was immediately showcased on Spotify in its coveted New Music Friday Playlist. Gaining steam, “Hurt Somebody” amassed over 1.4 million streams in less than a week, appeared on the global viral charts, and earned acclaim from Billboard who wrote, “It allows the songwriter to showcase his ability to blend mature themes with a folk-pop twist.”

“Being worried about how hard it is to end something can paralyze you,” Noah explains. “It’s a universal feeling. Pulling off the band-aid in a relationship or any situation is never easy. It means a lot to conjure the strength to call it quits. You can apply it to many different things—whether it’s romance or a work opportunity. ‘Hurt Somebody’ illuminates how the worry almost paralyzes you. It’s a personal experience where I was worried about hurting someone else, and I couldn’t end a situation because of it.”

On Dean Lewis’s latest single, “Be Alright” for Island Records, he perfectly captures gut-wrenching heartbreak that comes with the hardships of a break-up. But while it deals candidly with anguish, the chorus swells with hope; a recognition that this pain is only temporary, with Lewis emotively singing “It’s never easy to walk away/ Let her go/ it’ll be ok”.

Lewis says the song is written about a bunch of different relationships. It was at the end of one of those relationships that he remembers driving straight to his brother’s house, “He met me at the front door, handed me a glass of whiskey, and said ‘It’s over, put the phone away, it will be alright.’ We had a drink and it just felt good to talk. For me this song is about hope and knowing that when you surround yourself with good people, things do work out."

The song is stirring and stripped back in instrumentation allowing listeners to really grapple with the emotional weight of the track. Sonically, the song places Lewis in the vein of his heroes like Noel Gallagher and Richard Ashcroft. “Be Alright” is a testament to his knack for writing thoughtful, evocative no-frills pop songs, and signifies Lewis as a bona fide star in the making.

But, surprisingly, it almost didn’t happen.

Before Lewis’ debut EP Same Kind Of Different, before the international tours, and certainly before his chart-topping hit “Waves”, Lewis was a sound guy. This job was disheartening for Lewis - he spent most his days watching others live out the dream.

He made a little music back then: A song, and a video had been uploaded online, and the response had been good, but not life-changing. He let it rest, not sure if anything would come out of it. It didn’t look like a career in music was on the cards for him.

But a friend of his changed all of that. Years ago, at a function, his friend befriended a woman who was in music publishing. After chatting, he told him about Lewis: How he was having trouble making it in the music industry, how he couldn’t seem to catch a break. His friend asked if she wouldn’t mind listening to Lewis’ music. She listened immediately and was completely won over by Lewis’ raw talent and unique songwriting. He was pretty much signed to her publishing company by the end of the taxi ride home.

At first, he did a little bit of songwriting for other artists, but found it frustrating and unfulfilling. It wasn’t until Lewis’ publishing company sent him to the small town of Hitchin in Hertfordshire, England to work with producers Nick Atkinson and Edd Holloway, that things started to take off. The first song they worked on was “Waves” which turned Lewis from unknown songwriter to hit-maker overnight.

“Waves” was added to Triple J rotation, has had over 122 million streams, 31 million video views and was the second biggest Australian single of 2017. Suddenly, Lewis was gracing the stages of Europe’s biggest television shows, playing headline shows and festivals slots across Australia and the US. “Waves” even appeared on programs like Suits, Riverdale and Grey’s Anatomy.

When recording “Be Alright”, Lewis struggled to capture the heightened emotions of the demo. He went back to the UK to record and reconnected with Atkinson and Holloway and recorded the song four times, “I finally knew we had it because when I was listening back to the song, I could feel the emotion coming out of my voice.”

“Be Alright” is the first taste of Lewis’ forthcoming album, and signals a newfound conviction in his own storytelling and singing capabilities, something, Lewis explains, he had to learn. “I think a lot of people are in their rooms writing songs, thinking it's not good enough or wondering why your voice doesn’t sound like everyone else's. But those things you think are weaknesses are actually your strengths. It’s what makes you unique. And after a bit of time, it’s the thing that gives you confidence.”

Tickets may be available at Graywhale Entertainment (801-583-3333)

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