As of 2017, Nahko and Medicine for the People have released three studio albums. Each one is bursting with romping, feel-good anthems full of percussion and thought-provoking poetics. Throughout their body of work, their music has always felt multi-cultural, combining a variety of musical styles with Native American and Hawaiian wisdom. In his first solo album, My Name Is Bear, frontman Nahko Bear continues in this vein while allowing listeners a peek into his past.
The songs on this album, which he deems a “prequel,” were mostly written when he was between the ages of 18 and 21. Nahko then revisited the tunes in later years. They chronicle the musings, emotions, and epiphanies of his adolescence as he navigates through a pivotal period of self-discovery. Whatever our background and story, we can release to this journey.
My Name is Bear by Nahko Bear
As the title suggests, My Name Is Bear is an introduction of sorts. Even long-time fans will get to know Nahko in a different light when listening to this musical coming-of-age story. These twelve songs are punctuated by four short “interludes” taken from his personal audio journals. Overall, they tell the story of a young man leaving home, traveling cross country, falling in and out of love, and eventually meeting his birth mother.
The album reveals a softer, more pensive side of Nahko Bear. In many of the songs, an acoustic guitar or piano serve as simply accompaniments for his distinctive vocals. Several of the tracks like “Be Here Now” and “Goodnight Sun” pack that familiar folksy punch that Medicine for the People fans may expect.
Nahko Bear Dragonfly Music Video
Even on a first listen, certain songs are easy to sing along to. There are simple but strong reprises like “I’ll survive/This is resistance.” As you listen again, the more subtle lyrics reveal themselves. One example is the gorgeous imagery in the song “Hamakua”: “The quiet ohi’a (Hawaiian plant that grows on lava rock) gave me the fever to push through cracks and reach for light.”
Nahko Bear shares his Hope and Optimism
The album My Name Is Bear artfully captures the magic of being young and wanting to take on the world. In “Be Here Now,” Nahko sings, “So I started moving further west/Just me and my guitar and what we manifest.” While listening to Nahko’s words, we can see our own youthful optimism. The songs on My Name is Bear remind us to be present and to be hopeful, at any age.
Nahko Bear Touring with My Name is Bear
Alisha Maxine is a yoga teacher, climber, world traveler, and handstand enthusiast.