Hoka Epic Journey for Nahko and His Music
Hoka is an epic Journey from Nahko and Medicine for The People. The album is complex diverse full of intrigue and interest it is an eighteen track epic musical voyage of discovery combining rock, pop, world music and spiritual chants. It is not surprising that Hoka has a feeling of a voyage of discovery and journey of finding self in a complex world since Nahko’s back story explains this spiritual wandering, the incessant searching for texture to the beat on many of the tracks. He was adopted by a white middle-class American couple as a baby, learning the piano and always respecting music. Then disillusionment set in, captivated by vagabond life and the story-telling tradition of Americana musicians he left home in search of adventure and self-discovery. He had in his arsenal stories, guitar, determination and a gritty desire to bridge the cultural gaps dividing his own psyche. The track All Can Be Done encapsulates the drive with horns, dancing carnival instrumental chorus and piano, an anthem for shaping all our destinies. Via the internet he found his mother learning his true ethnicity of Puerto Rican, Native American (Apache) and Filipino descent. His self-branded ‘real talk music’ is the result of the personal journey of healing and acceptance that followed.
The video released with the album of San Quentin is the forgiving the man responsible off murdering his biological father. A surprisingly upbeat number full of positive energy and freedom of thought and letting go in the process of forgiving. Nahko ventured on the visit so he could get some closure after spending the majority of his life unravelling the truth of his childhood. With his father murdered and his mother forced into human trafficking.
Nahko’s story is immense. The album opens with the title track; Hoka. The Native American chanting and spoken vocals give the start of the journey context and shape. And as for the album title? “Hoka is a Lakota word, it is a call to action. It’s what Crazy Horse would say when he went into battle, ‘Hoka, hey!’ My call is to put action to the words that I speak and the lyrics I sing. Not just to talk, but to do.”
Then we are into a piano intro and his distinctive emotionally charged vocals with Directions and so the album journey begins. Everyone will have a track that deeply affects them, personal favourites. What the album is not is a dirge of self-pity and misery; it is finding yourself and accepting who you are. The musicianship is eclectic and at times fiery but always bedded in western tradition of music for folk with a story/purpose. Intertwined in traditional cadences is a mix of hip-hop and rock beats. Joining Nahko are Chase Makai (lead guitarist), Justin Chittams (drums), Pato (bass guitar), Max Ribner (horns) and Tim Snider (violin).
The album Hoka is full of texture and tonal interest and is medicine for the people. Stand out tracks for me are Love Letters To God with the clapping beat and horns you are drawn into the lyrics. Who can resist a track called Tus Pies, a stripped down acoustic number. Inspired by Chilean poet and politician Pablo Neruda. “It’s about friendship and being an anchor for someone. ‘Pies’ is the Spanish word for ‘feet.’ At the end of one of his poems, Neruda says a line I cherish: ‘I love your feet for how they walked on the mountains and through the rivers and through the valleys until they found me.’ Closing with The Wolves Have Returned a lyrical number celebrating nature, the power of nation and the need to find ones-self and tread gently as we journey across the planet.
Nahko has successfully weaved a tapestry of sound, reinforced by lyrics that have something to say. This is music for our times celebrating diversity, celebrating the planet and how we need to nurture each other and look after this fragile world and its complex relationships.
Nahko and Medicine for The People, have much to say and the journey is long, the album works as there is light and shade a musical exploration of emotions and hurts unraveled and put back together a vocal novel or film. Hako has validity giving Nahko’s life experiences and place to be heard.
Bluesdoodles gives this CD EIGHT doodle paws out of TEN ….
Nahko and Medicine for The People – Hoka- SideOneDummy Records
– Out 10th June 2016
- Directions (feat. Joseph)
- It Is Written
- All Can Be Done
- San Quentin
- Two Wolves
- Great Spirit
- We Are On Time
- Love Letters To God
- Heart Forward
- Tus Pies (Your Feet)
- Ku Kia’I Mauna (fest. HAwane & Pua Case)
- Build A Bridge
- Make A Change (feat Zella Day)
- Give A little, Get A Little
- The Wolves Have Return