Waking Bear – Album Review

Waking BearWaking Bear – Album Review

The first song of the Waking Bear collection, “Filled with Dreams”, begins with a calm, ever-expanding horizon of sound that gently opens up into a guitar motif and a verse about gratitude and how lucky we are to be alive. The guitar and vocals are very present in the mix, the lead male singer’s wide-open vocal range accompanied by the soft-whispered harmonies of a female vocalist. The band occasionally touches on a flat seventh note that gasps a breath of modality into the mix. There’s lots of tension building as they oscillate between still moments and upbeat, strummy exclamations, before finally kicking into an uplifting guitar, drum and bass groove that resembles the Dave Matthews Band with its crisp commercial clarity. The arrangement reaches a fulfilling arrival point with a sweet and lovely duet of harmonies in the chorus. Synth arps accent the background in a dreamy haze and then suddenly the beat drops off at the end, and the song releases its final exhale of the slow guitar motif we first heard in the beginning.

Based on a true-life story of the love affair between an older woman and their less experienced male companion, “New York Mermaid” immediately seduces you with its thumping bass line and skin-tight drum pattern. The music matches the feeling of sometimes being seduced and other times feeling like, “hey, this isn’t quite as okay as I thought it was”. As the bass continues to bump along seemingly-effortlessly, the rest of the band discos all around them in a synth-fazed shimmer. There are times when the instruments are doing so much you hardly even notice there were lyrics sung, but not in a bad way — there’s just so much excitement to listen to. Waking Bear does well at composing rhythmically/harmonically contrasting song sections in order to give each song a sense of freshness and intrigue. In the same manner that one would expect this type of relationship to end, this song eventually dissolves into a twanged out short-circuit at the bitter end.

“Bigfoot” draws a parallel between a newly single man and the lonely heart of the most misunderstood urban legend of our time. Once again a catchy bass line leads the way, followed by an intricately picked guitar part — a common pattern that works well for this band. What makes this song stand out among the others is the textures of flute that can be heard in the background, as well as the cowbell in the chorus that adds a sense of kinkiness to the mix. The vocalist has an expansive reverberation in his voice similar to Neil Diamond, but the music leans closer toward a cross between The Police and Dave Matthews Band.

“There She Goes” is a song meant to reassure the listener that even when couples break up, they can still appreciate and be happy for one another. Its bouncy drumbeat and lyrics are uplifting, while the smiley-sounding arp offers carefree, easygoing vibes and the feeling of moving on mutually from a previous lover.

Similar to “There She Goes,” “Downstream” features a breezy groove accented by synth arps, emitting the feeling of being content with oneself and their current situation in life. It’s about giving thanks and counting your blessings at the end of a complete and beautiful journey, like coming full circle on a lifetime’s worth of ups and downs knowing everything’s going to be okay. Waking Bear’s music and lyrics encourage the listener to reflect on life past, present, and future with a bright and self-assuring outlook.

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