by Monica Wang
In her first, eponymous EP, Toronto singer-songwriter (and erstwhile model-actress) Mieke (Elissa Mielke) chooses to tell us a four-part story rather than string together mindless rhymes.
Mieke labels her work “alternative pop/folk music”; but while blurring genre boundaries is oh-so-hot right now, I’m not really hearing the folk. That being said, the sound comes together quite well – Mieke’s voice is what some might describe as thin and others may consider crisp and bright, with a youthful edge hinting at vocal fry.
The best example is the wistful, wonderful opening piece, “Sleeping Alone”. If you liked Delerium and Sarah McLachlan’s “Silence” and other lovely hits of the ‘80s and ‘90s, you’ll find this fresh yet pleasingly familiar. “Sleeping Alone” is a description of newly single life in a second-person point of view, beautiful in its lack of self-pity. Mieke asks “you” to be honest, to not give up – this is the inner voice of your more optimistic self – in a plaintive air not weighed down by instrumentals. Only the simplest melodies and the clicking of what sounds like claves accompany her voice.
After an intriguing start, Mieke drifts through the middle of the story, with lines such as “My love / You’re a vulture” spilling out with little emotion. “Vulture” begins as an understated tale of regret more delicate than the name suggests and ends with “my love” repeated ad nauseam. “Magnolia” then floats in prettily and twirls and twirls for a long time before falling away: “You are nothing more than my magnolia / My magnolia / My magnolia”.
“Move On” is the weakest chapter, as Mieke tries to substitute energy with controlled “ahh”s and repetition. Still, the ditty fits with the narrative and provides a hopeful ending.
Mieke’s first collection is sugary without being a feast for earworms. Enjoy her clean, sweet voice, but hope for more substantial fare from her in the future.
Mieke is available now.