Pop / Rock
Philosophy for the Masses
Produced By: Marc Nadjiwan and Ron Skinner
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
I’ve been a fan of Nadjiwan for quite some time now, reviewing albums by Nadjiwan the band and albums by other bands featuring Marc Nadjiwan, singer/songwriter/musician. I’m a big fan of the albums Awake (2000) and Begin (2005) and truly enjoyed Marc Nadjiwan’s work with D.I.N. on the album You Burst Into Fire. So, you can imagine how happy I was when Nadjiwan contacted me and asked if I wanted to check out the new album, Philosophy for the Masses - I jumped at the chance.
Marc Nadjiwan, Canadian artist and front-man of the band, was born in northern Manitoba and was raised to appreciate the untamed beauty of Northern Ontario. Keeping in touch with his Ojibway roots, Nadjiwan attended pow-wows to listen to traditional Native American storytelling. He also kept himself musically fed on a steady diet of traditional Native American music as well as Canadian icons such as Gordon Lightfoot. Later, he became intrigued by the pop music culture. His resulting albums have consisted of a perfect blending of both cultures – Native American music and pop/rock. The lyrics found on each of Nadjiwan’s albums are powerful and often contain poignant political messages.
Nadjiwan’s newest album, Philosophy for the Masses, features a number of guest musicians, including Donne Roberts, George Koller and Debashis Sinha. D.I.N. makes an appearance supplying back-up vocals for the songs Lie Me Down and On My Way and assisting in the album design by providing the cover art. Philosophy for the Masses finds a much more mature sounding band…a more polished sound. Marc Nadjiwan’s vocals on this album are reminiscent of Matt Scannell of Vertical Horizon, Michael Stipe of R.E.M. and Ed Kowalcyzk of Live. The music is amazing and of course, Marc Nadjiwan has a hand in performing most of it. He is credited with not only writing every song on the album, but performing lead vocals, guitars, keyboards and bass.
The lyrics found on Philosophy for the Masses contain some heavy meaning. Take these lines from Lay Me Down: “Our bodies weigh us down / The gravity of being ourselves /…It’s our pride that weighs us down / Humility will keep us sound.” These are lyrics that anyone could understand sung in clear and concise tones. The same can be said for all of the songs on the album. Another example of well-thought out meaningful lyrics can be found on the title track: “In the eyes of strangers it must seem so wrong / Never judge your neighbor until you’ve heard their song.” As always, Nadjiwan’s lyrics are sending listeners an important message – all they have to do is listen.
The music is somewhat diverse, offering up some soul, rock and pop. I particularly enjoyed the Native American influence mixed with rocking guitars and beats that I couldn’t help but bob my head to on the title track. The last song on the album, I Know, is sung completely in a Native American tongue, giving it a mystical feel. My least favorite track musically was On My Way, but the lyrics were incredibly inspirational.
This is the Nadjiwan I fell in love with all of those years ago. Great to see that the band is consistent in keeping me satisfied. Terrific music and meaningful lyrics sung with a clear and compelling style combine to make Philosophy for the Masses Nadjiwan’s best album yet. I predict that Philosophy for the Masses will receive quite a bit of recognition in the days to come.
Check out Philosophy for the Masses at http://www.Nadjiwan.com and at iTunes in January 2009!