Our curated picks of the hottest new live acts.
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Rochester, NY, based instrumentalist and vocalist Mikaela Davis is on the hunt for a sponsor she tells us, laughing, at Brighton showcase festival The Great Escape (full video coming soon). Her instrument of choice, the harp, is a hefty piece of equipment to ship across the globe. Her travels are defined by a harpist online community, she informs us. Together they help others access the often difficult to find instrument.
It’s easy to expect a certain sound from Davis. The harp brings with it certain connotations, ones with classical training and a certain level of beauty. Mikaela Davis in part subscribes to these; she attended the Crane School or Music and performed as part of various youth orchestras during her youth. Yet on tracks such as Delivery and Little Bird, Mikaela Davis removes herself from these associated labels.
“In my life I’ve been compared to a little bird,” she opens on the latter. What follows is a declaration of independence, a definitive step away from these musical confines. “I’ve got to spread my wings,” she continues. “I came alive, now I can fly.”
In tone, Little Bird follows suit. What starts with Davis’ soft vocals swirls into a progressive, experimental garage rock epic. A selection of her other songs to date focus on the delicacy of her voice, yet there’s a consistent unusual undercurrent. Her vocals carry a certain slur, injecting a grittier edge.
It’s a tone that has seen the rising star draw attention through her previous self-releases. Mikaela Davis has a plethora of songs to her name, each reinventing the traditional use of the harp. The Rochester natives’ BandCamp page offers a run through her history, including 2014’s Fortune Teller and the more recent Pure Divine Love.
Her sound draws from the likes of Joanna Newsom, Laura Marling, and even to some extent Kate Bush, had they grown up listening to psychedelic maestros and garage rockers. The result is something all her own; haunting, delicate and powerful.
Newest song Delivery is a swirling, retro-infused psychedelic masterpiece.
Early track Dreaming balances between the ethereal and the grounded.
Pure Divine Love places the harp front and centre of its 70s vibe.
Check out Ticketmaster.co.uk for Mikaela Davis live dates and tickets.