Mikaela Davis is a singer-songwriter/harpist who is gradually making her way through the ranks of independent music. Over the past two years she has released two singles, a full length album and an EP as well as taken her act on tour multiple times. Her most recent release, “Fortune Teller”, is both eclectic and immersing; in six tracks it touches upon dream pop, jazz, indie rock and singer-songwriter genres without anything feeling noticeably different. She even draws influence from Sufijan Stevens, Elliott Smith and George Harrison. While her stacked lineup of notable influences is apparent in her music the creative aspects she portrays in these recordings manages to remain unique.
In an avenue of music that is oversaturated with alternative rock bands, acoustic acts and indie piano jazz singers the use of a harp as the primary instrument throughout the album is a breath of fresh air. The harp offers chord variety and a sense of fluidity that cannot be found in other acts. The voicing of the instrument create an extremely unique atmosphere that blend into the music in a calming sort of way that supports the overall feel of the music. Davis’s voice is also exceptional. She sings with a somber tone for the most part and while she doesn’t belt out any notes she does a great job of blending in with the music. At times her tone can grow to be stale however and she has a tendency of enunciating words in strange/annoying ways although these moments are not lasting.
Along with Davis, two other band mates share the stage in accompaniment, one being a drummer and the other a guitarist though both are multi instrumentalists. The drum work throughout the album ranges from pop rock patterning to subtle builds and fills in lighter tracks. At times the rhythmic direction enters a jazz oriented feel and other times soft subtle pronunciations lay back and carry along with the music. Overall the drums are very musically played and add a unique dimension to the already niche EP.
The guitar work brings a borderline jazz feel to it. While guitar is not present throughout the entire effort when it is it either adds or detracts to the music. Sometimes the guitar parts make the music come across slightly more energetic than it actually is or it buries the beautiful tones of the harp. At these moments the guitar should be laying a foundation rather than leading and this is where parts of the EP go wrong. The synthesizer is equally guilty of this. At times pad synths and leads come out of absolutely nowhere and tend to grate on the ears while at other times they take the music to an entirely separate level of beauty.
Overall the “Fortune Teller” EP is a great release from a newly budding act. Mikaela Davis and her accompanists have laid a phenomenal foundation for an act that has exceptional potential. The group’s songwriting is interesting but has plenty of room to grow while the performances are top notch. The arrangement of the instrumentation and the sometimes odd vocal delivery are the few detractors of the EP though in these issues can more than likely be attributed to experimentation. Mikaela Davis has found an identity and is doing an excellent job developing it. The group and the music simply need to grow with it.