EP Review: ‘Agape’ by Bear’s Den

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Bear’s Den will be touring again soon reaching new audiences with their music.  After gaining a ‘den full’ of fans during last years Matt Corby UK Tour, and more so whilst supporting Mumford and Sons, they have just completed their own headline tour of the UK, and are now set to support Daughter next month. In anticipation of this tour, I just had to share my thoughts on their new EP – ‘Agape’.

“Agape” can be translated in many ways – but if you look up the definition, its a Greek word meaning ‘love’ – Gods love for humankind, or it can be defined as an all encompassing love for your family.  For me, Bear’s Den’s ‘Agape’ EP is a story about both definitions.

The title song is personified.  Lead vocalist Davie sings “Agape, please don’t dissipate” – there is a void when he is not with, around, or feeling “Agape”.  The tone of the song fits the mood perfectly, while upbeat drums and chirpy banjo chords move the song along consistently. The harmonies in the last chorus’ are so beautiful.  Reinforcing the need for “Agape”.

Next is a song called “Isaac”.  Seemingly related to the biblical story of when Abraham bound Isaac to sacrifice him to prove his love for God.  The folk sound of the banjo takes us back to biblical times. Soft guitar chords give way to whispered and pleading lyrics.  The lyrics echo this sentiment “I watched as the clouds began to part” and “I have never seen you look so afraid with your head pressed so hard against the stone” .  The words of regret and devotion suggest that the protagonist in this song is Abraham. “I’m gonna give all my love to you” – repeated throughout the song.  This song reels of emotion  – mournful lyrics complimented by gentle and repetitive harmonies and soft notes.

Trembling cymbals set the tone for the next song “Mother”, and the banjo notes move the song onto the lyrics.  A story of a Father’s regret following a drunken episode maybe?  The music quietens for the words of the song to be spoken, echoed by backing vocals.  The song plays out a scene where the Mother is beaten “black and blue and broken and bruised”.  She prays for her son to rescue her – or to make his escape – but at the same time, she knows that he “will not come”.  Back come the drums to enforce the drama of the situation.  The story then moves on suggesting that the Father tries to make a mends  -“Hindsight is beautiful but not so forgiving, the truth just follows and festers inside”.  Banjo chords and drum beats come back in-keeping with the drama, finally building up reaching its crescendo and coming to an abrupt end, like the story?

“When You Break” is in-keeping with the family theme.  The beginning notes give us a sense of anticipation. Words like  “spoilt selfish little child, out to play out in the wild”, “found you shaking like a leaf, underneath your family tree”.  Why? The intermitted electric guitar gives a sense of drama.  When these notes fade, the acoustic guitar comes in, to let us to listen to the next plea “you’ve been crying out for forever, but forever’s come and gone, you keep begging for forgiveness but you don’t think you’ve done wrong”.   The song ends giving the sense of needing and wanting forgiveness.  The music echo’s the words sentiments. Give in, forgive yourself, and move on.

Finally we come to “A Year Ago Today”.  The family drama comes to an end in a courtroom.  Metaphorically it sounds like the Mother of the family is being condemned for loving the wrong person. “You’ve already served, all that you deserved too many lifetimes over”.  Davie goes on to sing “Momma, I told you all the time, just be careful who you love”.  She was warned.  She fell for the lies, believed them.  Maybe the weakest of the EP songs, the musical content flows nicely, rhythmically.  No real crescendo or drama in this song.  Although, the melodies towards the end reinforce the meaning and message of the song.  ‘Be careful’.

The more I listen to this EP, the more I love it.  I love a song that tells a story.  This EP gives me a pentalogy.  The words, the meanings, the melodies, the notes, the harmonies.  There is so much lyrical content to divulge and dissect.  Even though there are only three musicians with a handful of instruments, each song contains so many notes, due to the immense talent of ‘the three bears’.  I’m gonna give all my love to you, Bear’s Den.

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Twitter: @bearsdenmusic

Facebook: Bear’s Den

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