Mikaela Davis: An Amalgamation of Rock, Pop, and Folk
by Karigan Wright
Mikaela Davis is an anomaly among the typical twenty-something-year olds creating pop music. Through her deep yet catchy lyrics, flexibility with genre, and her unique voice, she continues to stand out with a nearly 100-pound harp by her side.
The Rochester, New York native learned the harp in college, once dreaming of joining a symphony. She soon discovered she longed for another lifestyle, one of playing her own music and going on tour; so her junior year she did just that. After struggling to find success in Brooklyn, she went back to her hometown, where she found her musical sanctuary. Davis soon released Delivery in 2018, produced by John Congleton and written by Davis, with the exception of the song “Emily”, written by band member Alex Coté.
The 10 song, 36-minute long album features Davis, alongside her band members, Alex Coté, Shane McCarthy, and Cian McCarthy. Delivery touches on psychedelic rock, folk, pop, and the style that only a singer-songwriter could produce.
Delivery opens with a track of the same name, which contains a deeply emotional and honest recollection of the journey you must go on in order to truly find yourself. After college, Davis moved to Brooklyn, hoping to make a name there. Struggling to find success, feeling lost and confused, she moved back to Rochester, going back to her home. Davis gives us a peek into what that journey was like for her, detailing her struggles of getting back to a place where she could flourish in the music industry, making records and touring. She tells her story in a brief timeline, the first verse opening with “When I thought my world was over,” followed by the second verse, “I’m not in control, I’m not cut out for this / So I took it back to New York, And cried to my mom / oh, I thought I’d know me by now.” The listener gets a firsthand look at Davis’s struggle to find herself amidst writing music, ending with verse three, in which she sings “They say it’s all about delivery.”
Davis continues to touch on identity, depression, heartbreak, desire, hope and more emotional themes throughout, from recounting the story of a relationship with a ‘starry eyed’ lense to telling of the loss and acceptance that comes with the end of a relationship in “A Letter I’ll Never Send”. In “All I Do is Disappear,” Davis contemplates her own self, asking “But how can I make myself clear / When all I do is disappear?” touching on her struggles with her identity. She feels lost and vulnerable, wanting to be taken away before she loses touch with the world around her. Davis alludes to feelings we’ve all had at one point or another, that is, feeling alone and lost, wanting to be left alone, but also yearning to be saved.
Proving she can write more than just emotional ballads, Davis switches it up with “Other Lover, showing off her funky side and what she can do with a harp. More times than not, people associate a harp with a gentle glittering. This is not the case with Davis. She makes the harp her own, crafting a relationship between harp and groovy-psychedelic sounds. The lyrics of the chorus, “I don't wanna be the other lover / I got this feeling that is taking over / Hits me, thinking maybe I should run away / run away,” are sung over a solid beat and funky harp runs that show you another side of Davis and her band.
Davis toured with the multigenre band, Lake Street Dive this past January, performing in sixteen cities along the way, including Baltimore, New Orleans, and Orlando. As a devoted fan of Lake Street Dive, I found myself front row at Rams Head Live in Baltimore last month. Not knowing anything about Davis besides what my boyfriend and I had heard in a quick Spotify listen while we waited for the show to start - I can easily say the room of 1,500 Lake Street Dive fans were completely blown away by Davis’ unexpected and pure talent. Her set had the entire audience dancing and swaying along, which isn’t always to be expected during the opening act. Davis must have gained at least 1,000 fans that night. Despite everyone’s anticipation for Lake Street Dive, nobody seemed to want Davis and her band to leave the stage.
Davis and her band will be touring with Rubblebucket across the country this March and April, continuing to take audiences by storm every night. She’ll be performing in Rochester, NY on March 13. With more than 29,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, Davis is an up and coming artist that is quickly earning her own place in the music industry.