Review: Nahko – `My Name Is Bear`


The most eclectic member of MV has been busy this week. Damian is back with more thoughts on a new one


Nahko is more known for his work with his band Medicine and The People who have a massive cult following around the world. He is of multi ethnic background, including Apache, Puerto Rican and Filipino descent. The new album, `My Name Is Bear` spans his formative years as an emerging artist travelling through the wild landscapes of Alaska, Hawaii and Louisiana and is a collection of deeply personal songs. It also features interludes sampled from his original road trips.

Opening the album is “Dragonfly” and it`s quite an uplifting song and highlights Nahko`s distinctive voice with just an acoustic guitar accompanying him apart from some chirping birds. It was written about a first love at a formative time in his early adulthood. “Be Here Now” is a more up tempo offering and has some nice horn snatches along with some great piano inflections throughout. The anthemic “Goodnight Sun” follows and it`s such a catchy piece. An uplifting, heartening tune with words that will have you humming the title of the track long after it`s over. We get the highly infectious “Kirby Joe” and the artists vocals are almost languidly shared atop a wonderfully catchy tune with some great musical instrumental additions throughout. A melody that will have you wanting to dance along to.

“Susanna” is a soulful ballad which narratives the writers journey from home to love. A nicely paced tune with some underlying strings adding to the emotional intensity of the story.

The stripped back “Sing Him Of My Revelations” is another that benefits from just an acoustic guitar and Nahko`s rich vocals. A tale of the enlightenment of nature and it`s wonder.

“Hamakua” is a gentle song with some nice harmonies and has some of the words sung in what I take to be Polynesian and in praise of the district on the north-east coast of Hawaii.

We get a piano led ballad with some finger-snaps on the heart warming “Call Him By His Name” a homage about the birth of Nahko`s brothers first child.

“Early February” is a soul, funk, as near as damn it disco outing which has a slightly reggae twinge throughout and an almost synthesized vocal asking the question `Where is your God? ` Strange but compelling.

There are some wonderfully crafted keyboard flourishes on “Creation`s Daughter”, a heart wrenchingly beautiful song actuating the well-crafted lyrics.

The piano intro to the penultimate track “Alice” is like something that would greet you upon opening a music box and it continues throughout this powerful ballad. The strong vocals giving full justice to the verses on this elegiac submission.

“Die Like Dinoz” closes the album and it`s quite an intense ballad with some deeply emotive lyrics.

I really enjoyed this album, it was a little different but evoked some delightful atmospheres, with personal and intelligent lyrics, sensitive melodies, skilful musicianship and well-constructed tunes. Nahko summed up this album by saying it was his way of `going back in time, cleaning out the closet a little bit and giving listeners something that feels good and makes them think. `

To my mind he`s certainly ticked all those boxes and more. There is a sense of cleansing and a vulnerability to this offering, which had me pondering at times but gaining a sense of pleasure throughout.

Rating 8.5 /10

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