Jen Cloher on a journey of self-discovery in I Am The River, The River Is Me

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Jen Cloher on a journey of self-discovery in I Am The River, The River Is Me

Jen Cloher
Words by Bryget Chrisfield

This album’s cover photograph captures Jen Cloher immersed in their matrilineal ocean, Whangaroa Harbour on the northern coast of Northland, New Zealand.

Cloher has previously spoken about not feeling worthy of speaking their mother tongue. Hearing them sing in Te reo Māori throughout album number five – clearly overcoming this fear – we share in the triumph (see: penultimate track He Toka-Tū-Moana – a waiata, sung as a duet with Te Kaahu – in particular). 

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Wow. Being Human (feat. Te Hononga o ngā Iwi), this record’s second single, is formidable: “I was born on Wurundjeri land/ Everything I know/ Everything I have/ Is because of what they lost/ Our ‘common wealth’ came at their cost” – be sure to check out this song’s empowering music video stat (brace yourselves for the haka). 

Kylie Auldist releases her astonishing vocal agility into The Wild, proving, yet again, that she’s the uncontested High Priestess Of Melbourne Soul.  

Many of I Am The River, The River Is Me’s songs flow with a sense of curious self-discovery, while others challenge: like initiating difficult convos and welcoming discomfort as an opportunity for personal growth. 

“What I achieved was all that defined me,” Cloher reflects during closer I Am Coming Home. We get a sense that, through reclaiming Māori culture, Cloher’s stepping into their power.    

Label: Milk! Records

Release date: March 3