Multi-award-nominated Tobique First Nation, New Brunswick (Wolastoqey ( maliseet))-based singer/songwriter Mike Bern brings us his rooted indigenous folk rock sounds with his new album ‘Ancestors’ released on March 14.
“no words for goodbye” YouTube and Spotify
Mike creates a sound that uniquely blends husky rock-style vocals and traditional folk acoustic melodies with hints of drawling Southern Gospel. He takes his inspiration from musicians like Frankie Miller, Chris Otepka, and Ben Schneider, which is evident in his music’s pure and heartfelt sound and the stories in his lyrics. Whether it’s the raw emotion from the words he uses or the way he harmonizes with the music, Mike’s music captures a sense of pain and vulnerability that is both authentic and moving.
Hailing from Tobique First Nation’ Ancestors’ came about when Mike visited an Angel Reader – someone who communicates and receives an angel’s vibratory words – after grieving a family member’s death. At this moment, Mike wanted to give something back, dedication to the sacrifices of generations of a family whose shoulders he rests upon.
Mike draws on several sources for his music, and in particular, this new album, whose heart lies in his connection to his ancestors and the memory of loved ones who have passed away. Their absence is a constant reminder of what could have been and how things used to be. So he’ll allow memories to wash over him and write out reflective melodies and musical ideas while contemplating his past and experiences on his deck.
His dreamy sonic-sounding electric guitars and close vocal harmonies are entwined through this album alongside his signature acoustic sound flowing like a river in the background. Gentle at times, Mike takes us on several journeys throughout this album.
‘Ancestors’ is the album’s title track, which reflects Mike’s connection to his forefathers, wanting to create an authentic and positive light to honour the people that went before him. And that journey that we all will take.
“Walk with me in the immortal sky
Star people awakening my oh my
On the mountain top
We hear your prayers
When we all die
We become the stars.”
‘Shine of Shirl’ is based on a personal experience inspired by his late uncle’s ashes which hang in his truck by the rearview mirror. Its upbeat bounce works in contrast to the melancholic undertone of the lyrics. It’s a homage to the souls no longer with him, including his uncle.
“He always wanted to listen to music while here,” Mike explains. “Now, when his favorite song comes on, I know he’s with me.”
“I know you’re driving next to me
The feeling puts me at ease
I start swerving to the right
Someone grabs the wheel
I know you’re here with me.”
Other noteworthy tracks are ‘Grateful Sun’ and ‘no words for goodbye’.
‘Grateful Sun’ is a nod to our fiery ball of warmth in the sky, known as the sun, and how it’s there to pick us up and keep us warm when we feel lost and alone, as the world can be a dark place at times. Mike wanted to create a song of gratitude for life. Its indie vibe steps away slightly from Mike’s usual indigenous folk-rock sound, which allows him to flex his metaphorical wings and step out of his folk-rock comfort zone.
With three straight Indigenous Music Countdown top 10s, Mike has an eclectic background. He has sung in award-winning bands Kickin Krotch and District Avenue, and opened for Seaway, The Trews, One Bad Son, The Motorleague, and more.