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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

All roads lead to home in ‘Northern Attitude’

Alex Kendall

It’s very rare these days that I see a New Hampshire license plate. The trademark Old Man in the Mountain has been traded out for the blue ombré of Connecticut that fills the streets I spend my time driving on lately. And yet, when I sat down to listen to “Northern Attitude” by Noah Kahan with Hozier on Nov. 10, it was like I could see the familiar sights on the road once again.

While the song was originally released on Kahan’s album, “Stick Season” in October 2022, the two artists performed a duet of it in Nashville this October, which tipped fans off to the possibility of a recorded version of the track. Kahan has recently released a slew of collaborations of his preexisting songs featuring artists that have made appearances on his tour, including Post Malone, Kacey Musgraves and Lizzy McAlpine.

Kahan confirmed the collaboration’s release in a TikTok on Nov. 1, telling fans that they were no longer allowed to listen to “Northern Attitude” because the version featuring Hozier would soon be coming out.

Most of Kahan’s music incorporates a theme that only around 5% of the U.S. population can truly understand: growing up in New England. The singer-songwriter was born in Strafford, Vermont, and spent a large portion of his life in both Vermont and Hanover, New Hampshire — a town a little over an hour away from where I grew up.

Out of all of his songs, “Northern Attitude” is perhaps the one where the growing pains of a New England life are examined the best. With lyrics like, “If the sun don’t rise / ‘Til the summertime / Forgive my northern attitude / Oh, I was raised on little light,” Kahan puts words to a phenomenon many of us are familiar with: the darker it gets, the harder it gets.

There’s no doubt that the song is perfect as is, but with the addition of Hozier, it only makes the track even stronger. While Irish born and raised, the rainy greenery of Ireland boasts enough of a similarity to New England that his vocals on the track are no less believable than Kahan’s. And after a recent show in New Hampshire where Hozier proclaimed that the state reminded him of home, I’m giving him honorary status.

Hozier and Kahan’s verses pack a punch on their own, but there’s nothing better than when the two sing together. Their voices blend in a perfect melody, the kind that raises goosebumps on every listen. Even when they take turns in the lead in the last verse, the backing of Hozier’s effortless vocals elevates the song to another level.

When the collaboration was first announced, my phone quickly lit up with the influx of notifications I started to receive. Friends were eager to share the news — and celebrate — with me that two of my favorite artists were releasing a collaboration. And while it’s true that Hozier and Kahan are constants on my playlists, “Northern Attitude” is much more to me than that.

Listening to “Northern Attitude” evokes a similar feeling in me that driving home does, the smile on my face that always comes when I pass the ‘Welcome to New Hampshire: Live Free or Die’ sign at the border with Massachusetts. I love where I grew up, the small towns and the cold air that lingers long past when the weather is supposed to turn to spring. But I also spent a long time wondering if I would ever get out.

I spent my childhood on field trips to maple barns, bundling up until I could barely see past my nose to go play in the snow and running through the trees that surrounded the condo complex I spent over half my life living at. Weekends were often dedicated to trips to the White Mountains, looking at the leaves falling from trees with my mother and climbing on rocks with my father.

And yet, as I watched as my high school classmates began to drop out and I met more and more people that had lived in these tiny New Hampshire towns their whole lives, I wondered if that was my own future. As Kahan sings, “You settle in to routine / Where are you? / What does it mean?” Growing up in New England is a beautiful thing few get to experience, but it’s also plagued with the fear of being stuck: if you submit to the routine you know, will you stay there forever?

“Northern Attitude” looks at life in New England and the good, bad and the ugly that comes with it. But with Kahan and Hozier’s beautiful vocals driving the message home, it’s easy to focus on the good nostalgia the song brings up. We may have been raised out in the cold, but this collaboration is all warmth.

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Zoe Leone
Zoe Leone, Arts & Life Editor

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