By Nick Scheidies
The Rocky Mountain Collegian
The average college student’s favorite things: Alcohol, indie music, the internet and free stuff. Mieka Pauley combines the latter three (though, unfortunately, not the first) with “Elijah Drop Your Gun,” a pleasant album of simple, catchy folk rock that can be downloaded for free at Amazon.com until March 10.
Though Mieka’s sound features a full backing band, she is clearly the music’s centerpiece. “Elijah Drop Your Gun” is defined by her confident charisma and soulful, throaty vocal delivery.
The slow-burning opening track, “All the Same Mistakes,” demonstrates the full range of that delivery. It begins with Mieka cooing over some understated guitar (“I think words build up in you like steam / I mean / You drink each day like water”) and concludes with her screaming her heart out into a loudspeaker.
“Be Like the Man” ups the ante with staccato, pop-punk power chords and snarky wordplay (“I doubt you really want it back / Not that you even had riches to turn to rags”).
But Mieka’s bark is worse than her bite. On “Bravely,” she sassily lambasts “the weak and lazy” but her music never sounds as daring or uncompromising as her attitude.
“9:45,” for one, suffers from an identity crisis: It tries on a handful of genres, including a sort of mushy hard rock, without committing to any. “The Devil’s Got My Secret” is more coherent, but it stinks of the type of bland, sappy balladry that belongs on a Gloria Esteban record.
But when Mieka strikes the right chord, the results are undeniable. The unassuming acoustic strums and sparse piano chords of “Fate Day By Day” conspire with Mieka’s uplifting, thoughtful songwriting (“I will not wait for what the world may not create”) for a track that is truly blissful in its elegant simplicity.
Moments like these are what cement Mieka Pauley as a unique, refreshing voice: An honest, intelligent woman playing real instruments in a musical landscape in which young women all too often amount to little more than sexy voices over programmed beats.
Common sense tells us that you get what you pay for. But the spunky, unpretentious “Elijah Drop Your Gun” is an exception to that rule. If Mieka Pauley keeps this up, she may soon become one of the average college student’s favorite things.
Staff writer Nick Scheidies can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.