Review: Nahko – ‘My Name Is Bear’

Nahko is best known as the front man for the world music collective, Medicine For The People. His first solo work, ‘My Name Is Bear’ is in essence a prequel to his work with the People, and comprises 16 tracks of music and “interludes”, mostly written between the ages of 18 and 21, with some a little later. The interludes are actual unedited tape recordings of his raw thoughts. The end result is a pleasing insight into the mind of a very thoughtful and wise man.

‘My Name Is Bear’ covers a wide range of genres, and lead single and opening track, ‘Dragonfly’, is straight folk but shouldn’t be taken as an indicator of what to expect: there’s rock, Americana, even pop, which shouldn’t come as a surprise for an album which was essentially written while the artist was still developing his style.

‘Susanna’ is a lovely, laid-back track which could very easily have been written and sold on to any of the artists coming out of Nashville these days. Conjuring up visions of wide open spaces and the prairies, it even includes parts of the old Western tune, ‘Oh Susanna’, a song which takes me back to my own childhood.

Nahko’s passions, for music, the world around him, life, are all evident in ‘My Name Is Bear’, particularly in his interludes, or “Bearly Thoughts”, the last of which, ‘Stoned On A Stone’ is like poetry, and conveys a beauty and peace which is to be envied. This leads into the very beautiful waltz, ‘Creation’s Daughter’, on which he’s joined by Sandra Fay. Their voices merge seamlessly with the simple instrumentation of piano and drums.

There’s some really nice surprises on the album: ‘Kirby Joe’ opens with some very pleasant brass, almost mariachi style. 9th track, ‘Sing Him Of My Revelations’ is a gentle folk tune, while ‘Hamakua’ is a beautiful song of praise, sung mostly in the Hawai’ian language. It’s got a tropical, almost calypso feel to it, and is easily our favourite song on the album.

Final track is ‘Die Like Dinoz’, essentially a love song between two dinosaurs who are separated by both time and climate change. It’s a ballad which could easily be applied to any love story, dinosaur or human, and evokes a lot of strong emotions, not just about love but also about the environment.

‘My Name Is Bear’, by Nahko, is out tomorrow October 20, and can be pre-ordered here. Nahko returns to the UK for three shows in November and December. See here for further information. Find out more about Nahko on his official website.

Check out our interviews with Nahko, earlier this month, and last year.

 

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About the author

Lisa has been writing for over 20 years, starting as the entertainment editor on her university newspaper. Since then she's written for Popwrapped, Maximum Pop, Celebmix, and ListenOnRepeat.

Lisa loves all good music, with particular fondness for Jedward and David Bowie. She's interviewed Edward Grimes (Jedward), Kevin Godley, Trevor Horn, Paul Young, Peter Cox (Go West), Brendan B Brown (Wheatus), Bruce Foxton (The Jam), among many many more. Lisa is also available for freelance writing - please email lisa@essentiallypop.com

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