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Jonah Kagen Bears It All On ‘Pollution’

In the music industry, overnight success is rarely actually overnight. The artists introduced to us at breakneck speeds have often been lurking under the surface for years. Jonah Kagen is the exception to the rule. His success story speaks to the increasingly online landscape, having achieved semi-viral status with one of his first social media posts, a breezy, tropical guitar track he posted on TikTok. Since then, it’s been a blur—he opened for Maisie Peters on her latest tour, with the first show on the slate in Minneapolis serving as his first-ever live performance.

What remained constant through that lightspeed journey is Jonah Kagen’s brand of salt-of-the-earth indie folk, a sound that he honed in on with his first EP georgia got colder. The three pack of location-specific tracks on that project, “georgia,” “colorado,” and “barcelona,” give important insight into the range of emotions he works through in that format. The latter is one of the more upbeat tracks in his catalog, at least sonically. The chipper guitar selections and overall poppy production are no doubt the aspects that lean into the warm weather title, as Kagen’s lyrics lay out a much icier tale. He strikes that same somber note in the former two—barebones ballads about heartbreak that more accurately reflect what you can expect from the songwriter’s discography as a whole.

Taken from @jonahkagen on Instagram.

Jonah Kagen’s Most Heart-Wrenching Song Yet

Enter “Pollution,” Jonah Kagen’s latest single, and just the second official release he dropped since his 2022 debut. The folk instrumentation remains constant here, with his trusty guitar providing the bulk of the backdrop. The priority that takes only accentuates the moments where he diverges from it, like shortly after the hook when somber piano notes ease into the verses. For Kagen’s part lyrically, the new narrative addition here is a serious dose of bittersweet nostalgia.

He lays that plain in the opening verse, singing, “I was fourteen the first time I left home / Not one drop of pollution, no taste of the cold / I remember that winter was snow was just snow / Runnin’ free, full of dreams, and a heart of gold.” And while he’s never been a slouch in his vocal performances, “Pollution” is one of his most stirring in that category. He adopts a childlike accent on those reminiscing verse sections before exploding with emotive power in the hook, adding a ton of intrigue and contrast to the narrative he lays out. Overall, if “Pollution” proves anything, it’s that Jonah Kagen hasn’t reached his final form or full potential, and even in a somewhat crowded field of indie musicians, he’s absolutely one to watch.

His schedule in the upcoming months also shows that growth. He’s currently amid his own headlining tour that’s taking him across the US with dates in New York, Philadelphia and Nashville on the docket in the next few weeks. Head to his website for more information on when he’ll be in your city.

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