Published Jul 11, 2018No matter how you plan, you can never predict the path your life will take. This was the case for harpist and singer-songwriter Mikaela Davis, who had plans to join a symphony after being classically trained. Realizing that she wanted to blaze her own trail, with support from the music community in Rochester, NY, Davis has worked to create Delivery, her debut of mixed-genre Earth-toned music that pushes the harp beyond the symphony.
What sets Davis apart is her ability to create unexpected symbiosis. Her relationship with producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Angel Olsen) has her music taking on crisp funk at times, and sharp pop at others, but you always feel Davis coming through. Take, for instance, the technical and carnival-esque "Delivery," or the sweet and salty lyrics of "In My Groove," which embrace Davis's own power while leaving a love behind. English trio the Staves also help strike a balance, with delicate harmonies that weave depth into tracks like the psychedelic "Pure Divine Love."
Davis plays in the space between hard and soft — the harp always in collaboration with the electric guitar and snappy percussion. The fuzzy inter-tension of "A Letter That I'll Never Send" leaves you with anticipation. "Other Lover" channels the future-pop beats of St. Vincent to stand on firm ground within a complicated relationship. But it is "Little Bird" that shines in its delicate-to-potent swoon of vocals and percussion, while the harp creates an intricate melody.
Mikaela Davis is an example of the old adage, "you have to learn the rules before you can break them" — though it never feels like anything is being broken on Delivery. The innovation here speaks instead of reparations and confident creation. (Rounder)