Acclaimed Tobique First Nation singer-songwriter Mike Bern returns listeners to his rooted indigenous folk-rock sound with the new album, Ancestors.
The New Brunswick artist creates a sound that uniquely blends husky rock-style vocals and traditional folk acoustic melodies with hints of 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.
A spiritual inspiration
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 made by generations of his family.
He draws on several sources for his music, and the heart of this new album 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, with reflective melodies and musical ideas contemplating his past and future experiences.
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.
“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 said. “Now, when his favorite song comes on, I know he’s with me.”
Other noteworthy tracks are “Grateful Sun” and “no words for goodbye.”
“Grateful Sun” is a nod to the sun, and how it’s there to pick us up when we feel lost and alone, as the world can be a dark place at times. Its indie vibe steps away slightly from Mike’s usual Indigenous folk-rock sound, allowing him to stretch his wings and step out of his comfort zone.
On Ancestors, Mike allows fans to return to his familiar voice while once again gifting audiences with his masterful storytelling.