Noah Kahan deems himself a “Jewish Ed Sheeran” in his TikTok bio, and for good reason: like Sheeran, he’s committed to being vulnerable and honest in his music, which his new track “Animal” is perfect proof of. The song tackles mental health and dark feelings in a mature, almost ironically upbeat manner. Kahan’s fans first fell in love with the song after he played it acoustically on an Instagram Live during COVID-19 lockdowns, and over a year later, it racked up over 300,000 Spotify plays in its first weekend on streaming.
“‘Animal’ is about dissociating from who you thought yourself to be,” Kahan shares. “I wrote it with a friend of mine [Ryan Keen]. He and I speak at length about mental health and what it’s like to live with depression, and I think this song is fundamentally about that everyday struggle.”
The light, yet evocative, track is the third offering from Kahan’s upcoming sophomore album, I Was/I Am, set for a September release with Republic Records. Joining singles “Part of Me” and “Godlight,” it becomes more clear with every release that I Was/I Am is a poignant adventure in self-exploration after a year where everyone did some reflecting.
“While writing this record, I’ve taken stock of who I am as compared to who I was when I started and what that means, for better or worse,” Kahan explains. “I do have some perspective. I’ve also lost a lot. I’ve lost people close to me for different reasons. I’ve lost friendships. I lost my dog. Those experiences haven’t necessarily hardened me, but they’ve made me incredibly grateful for what I have now. The biggest change is a little bit of clarity in terms of who I am and the person I want to end up being. The songs on the record represent a new understanding of myself.”