Noah Stolee is an 18 year old Kitchener-Waterloo resident who will soon be attending Wilfred Laurier University. He recently released his second album, Coffee and Caramel, which was absolutely fantastic so I tracked him down to talk about it.
Noah, like most musicians came from humble beginnings. It was simply a given for him to pursue music as his mother was a music teacher; it then lines up that his earliest musical experience consisted of toys and candy from his teacher after piano lessons. That said, upon asked what made him want to pursue music Noah just shrugs, “Maybe I just wanted to show off?”. Apart from piano, his musical childhood was further enriched by the introduction of the Beatles from his father and later a love for Bon Jovi that extended to belonging to a band that almost exclusively played his songs.
The first published evidence of Noah’s upbringing was an album released on Labour Day of 2018 called Flood. This laid back project grew from five songs in extra time over the summer. The album is still available on Spotify and portrays huge talent; however, when questioned on the subject of criticism Noah grinned and explained that, “Having two albums out is refreshing because it gives the people the liberty to give their true opinions on my first”.
When listening to Noah’s music you might notice many musical components pulled from artists like One Direction and Harry Styles in particular. Although One Direction might be considered “pop trash” Noah explained that their “polished production and guitar driven sound” really sold him. His tonality is also influenced by the Beatles and strives for the same diversity they achieve in their chords. That said, he has also learned to dial back certain components of music in favor of progressing, “For starters, the electric guitar isn’t meant for every song,” he also emphasizes that an artist needs to say what they want to concisely – shorter songs can be better.
Coffee and Caramel
In case you need further motivation to listen to Noah’s album here’s a quick rundown.
“All of my songs are me trying to explain connections or relationships in words that haven’t been used before and aren’t cliche so people can relate as much as possible”
Track 1- Lukewarm
The intention of this very first song was to contrast with previously written songs. It depicts watching two people fall out of love when you have feelings for one. Noah wanted the album to start with only guitar, voice and piano to ingrain the idea that fireworks weren’t needed to make a song great (and then he could become a total hypocrite after).
Track 2- The World
The World is about finishing high school and fearing losing people. After grade 12 people tend to go in very separate directions so this song is trying to express the feeling of wishing people would stay or at least have the same connections with each other as before when they come back. As for the musicality, Noah also wanted the second to be stripped back except upbeat so the song has a Mumford and Son’s vibe with a strong kick drum back beat.
Track 3- The Good Friend
The musicality of this third song is a little more interesting. For starters, in terms of the chord progressions, it modulates in the first two bars before going back to normal. The style also varies as it starts as an early-Beatles-inspired piano song before progressing to more of an organ funk track and then finishes with a big band type of sound. Noah explained that he always tries to write melodies that are catchy with unconventional chords underneath.
As for the song itself, it describes someone deciding that a friendship they have will never be anything more as well as taking that negative emotion and putting a positive spin on it – hence the upbeat melody.
Track 4- Chess
Chess was inspired by early Panic! at the Disco which plays with fiddle folk music and goth rock. So, the song itself includes both which is a strange combination.
Track 5- To Help You Sleep
To Help you Sleep is one of Noah’s favorite songs on the album – so a must listen. He explained that he liked it because it has a chord progression that doesn’t repeat until the phrase is finished – an idea not very common in popular music. The song is about helping a friend who’s having a hard time which he wanted to publish as a one-take piano ballad to portray the raw emotion, but ended up a little different.
Track 6- Picture
Picture is one song where it is obvious what the artist values in song writing: conveying emotion and telling a story as it does both. The emotions are conveyed in the unique melodic line of this song as he wanted to convey a stripped back feeling of swelling up with tears, crying and then collapsing. Noah relayed, “Music is an art form that can depict feelings like no other so it annoys me when people use cliches like, ‘I’ve never felt this way before’ so it’s my goal to put words to those unexplained things”. The emotions are conveyed in the unique melodic line of this song as he wanted to convey a stripped back feeling of swelling up with tears, crying and then collapsing.
Track 7- Sad Angel
Sad Angel explores the contrast between looking in on a dysfunctional relationship and also having hope that they could work though it. These contrasting feelings are also shown in the musicality of the song, the key modulates down a whole step in the first few bars (uncommon and sets a sad tone) and then back up in the chorus to create a feeling of holiness (hence angel).
Track 8- Water
Water is a song that was written about a party where someone drinks more and more as their night gets worse. The melodies mimic ‘angsty teen punk rock’ which is fitting because Noah said, “A lot of people say that my songs are angsty, but that’s just because I’m explaining feelings that young people have for the first time where as everyone else has already experienced them before and have been documented by a million Ed Sheeran’s all over the world.
Track 9- Symmetry
Symmetry is about how relationships can become unhealthy if the people in it forget their identities or if their identities become their relationship. Noah explained that most of his songs, including this one, start out a lot slower and then are made catchier later. Another interesting idea to note from Noah’s song writing is the way he contrasts sad lyrics with upbeat melodies.
Track 10- Coffee and Caramel
Coffee and Caramel is a love song and, obviously, the most important song on the album. The song itself started out a lot shorter and played on the guitar, but after a couple additions they just couldn’t be taken away.
Track 11- Home
“Essentially, I wanted to write an Ed Sheeran song,” laughs Noah. The lyrics are meant to convey growing old with someone as well as the idea of people changing but love remaining the same through death and beyond.
You can download Noah’s album on all major streaming platforms including: Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud, and YouTube!