In a career built on reflective, deeply personal songwriting, Nahko And Medicine For The People’s extraordinary new album, ‘Take Your Power Back,’ (May 15, 2020) stands as far and away his most profound, revelatory, and fully realized collection yet.
Recorded in Los Angeles and Executive Produced by cut&dry, the record grapples with grief, trauma, and reconciliation, learning to face heartache head on and embrace the peace and serenity that comes with understanding and acceptance. As heavy as all that may sound, ‘Take Your Power Back’ is as uplifting and infectious as anything Nahko has ever released, blending socially conscious folk and rock with soulful, alt-R&B, genre-bending production. It’s an album of growth, of courage, of resilience. It’s a testament to the beauty and evolution that can come from fully inhabiting our pain, and it’s proof positive that our true power—spiritual, physical, and emotional—inevitably comes from within.
“I had half a year just to cultivate and create on a deeper level with this record,” Nahko explains. “I realized that I hadn’t allowed myself to explore some of the darker parts of my psyche before because I’d never had the language for it. I started going to therapy, and for the first time, I saw just how much work I needed to do. It could be painful, but sometimes you have to go through the mud to find the flowers.”
Born to a Puerto Rican/Native American mother and a Filipino father, Nahko was adopted by a white, conservative, Christian family in Oregon and raised under the name David Bell. He later learned that his birth was the result of a rape, that his biological mother had been fourteen and sold into sex work at the time he was conceived, and that his biological father had gone on to be murdered. A sixth-generation Apache, he took on the moniker of Nahko—a play on his middle name, Nahkohe-ese, which translates to Little Bear—as a way of reclaiming his roots, and in his late teens and twenties, he began traveling the country, spending stints living as far afield as Hawaii and Alaska as he wrestled with identity, purpose, and perception.
Backed by his band, Medicine For The People, Nahko released his debut album, ‘On The Verge,’ in 2011, but his true breakthrough came two years later with ‘Dark As Night.’ The record was a critical and commercial breakout, landing in the Top Ten on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart and earning the band festival slots at Outside Lands, Electric Forest, Wanderlust, Bumbershoot, and more. Over the next four years, Nahko would go on to release two more celebrated albums with his band, solidifying his reputation along the way as an outspoken activist and advocate for both social and environmental justice.