WPGM Recommends: Mi’das – Stronger (EP Review)

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With each episodic EP in the The Story So Far collection series of London-based Brighton-born acoustic-soul-pop – with funk and country accessorized – musician Mike Davies (known under the pseudonym Mi’das), the complexion of his character becomes more and more complete until we have a detailed figure of a musician. It’s like assembling individual parts from a weekly collect and build specialist magazine.

Containing the same placid portrait throughout the trilogy, the first EP entitled Glow has Maya blue boundary and is the bare-bones skeleton of his music. From the online video that acts as both a documentary and an introductory greeting, Mi’das states that this record is “me and instrument and how I started playing music, influenced by some of my favourite singer-songwriters of all time and the love and respect I have for their music“. That is indeed what it is. A no thrills ride with respectful entrance into the music theme park. Stripped back and minimal, it gives himself an opportunity to train his classic writing skills.

Why can’t love come with a guarantee?” is a witty contemporary lyric in “Are You Really Mine?“, the first of his self-reflective numbers. Although he’s a self-confessed fan of James Morrison and has similar soul influences to Paolo Nutini, Mi’das vocals are far less accented, lack a distinctive tone and possess incredibly clear and intelligible pronunciation and have the inoffensive kindness of Ed Sheeran, which evidentially makes it a popular target for female fans, commercials and television dramas.

Twilight” hints at a folk environment with very agile acoustic chords, drum-brushing and pick scraping before backing vocals give it a dash of 1990s Heather-Small-esque-pop-soul and lyrically challenges the perception that this has been an easy ride through his career because he has shared the stage with Jesse J, Rita Ora, Labrinth and another blue-eyed-soul musician Jamie Cullum: “it might seem that everything is serene in my soul but life has taken it’s toll“. It begins to show his versatile vocal ranges.

I’ll Catch You” is Mi’das’ “All Of Me” (John Legend) in that it’s an emotional-charged romantic piano ballad with a soulful intimacy. Mi’das croons: “I’ll catch you my dear, although my arms may be frail, I will let your falling star prevail“, before speedy Coldplay-coloured piano at it’s finale. Although his cover of Cheryl Cole’s “Crazy Stupid Love” could complete an album largely reflective recent chart toppers, his minimal interpretation of the urban-pop song (which features odd mismatched off-key saxophone as it’s hook) is the first demonstration of his skills at showing nostalgic electric funk edge complete with vibrato technicality.

The second chapter in his autobiography is Grow and this provides the heart of our protagonist with yellow outskirts on the sleeve. A colour associated with optimism and enlightenment, Grow “represents his education in the R&B and soul artists of the 60s and 70s and the influence of the vocalists and guitarists of the time in my music“. Humming and soft drum hits introduce the far-more soulful vocal delivery from Mi’das on opener “Call It Love“. It has a more fruitful flavour and places him at the bracket of twenty-first century blue-eyed soul singers alongside Tingsek, Jamie Liddell and Mayer Hawthorne. Yet the acoustic performance has a country twang and the electric organs made it gospel-friendly.

Be Strong” escorts us in with a Latin flavouyr, before becoming progressing, identically like Stevie Wonder’s “As” in terms of its musical progression, time-length and vocal quirks. A bridge of blues guitar is the first expression of his self-confessed love for John Mayer. “Everybody’s Changing” isn’t another cover of Keane but instead an ode to his last EP with it’s fundamental production performed with the sensitive likeability of Jason Mraz and moves along like James Taylor’s “You’ve Got A Friend”. “Sun Don’t Shine” is funk like James Brown’s “Like A Sex Machine” without the blaxpoitation beat and Jimi Hendrix without the psychedelic wallpaper. The exciting volume of guitar overshadows the vocals apart from when Mi’das attempts a Prince falsetto.

The final chapter was released on April 30, and is produced by James Wyatt (Lianne La Havas, Eliza Doolittle) and rather than continue with the G pattern, it’s labelled Stronger and bordered with a red colour associated with strength. This is supposedly the skin of this musical framework giving us a facial characteristic. Whilst on the sophomore EP Grow, he showed his compassion for nostalgic songs, the first track of his new EP uses gramophonic crunches at its dawn. “Wish Road” then goes on to being an entertaining Americana-blues rock-soul mixture of spellbinding proportions. It crams in almost everything from his previous EP as well as an orchestral intensity in the middle bridge and uses literature-like illustrations in the music video to complete its sophistication.

Vienna” is also adventurous and sets itself the challenge of wiping the Ultravox connotations from our internal Shazam but it’s the repetitive The Police-esque yelling of Austria’s capital city alongside the clapping bridge (also heard on Glow’s “Are You Really Mine”) make it memorable and destined to be sung in a rock arena. It also feels familiar for its James Bay, Mumford and Sons and Viva-la-Vida era Coldplay indie crescendo-filed structure. Admittedly, all this feels a little premature, pretentious and a puzzling detour from his developing sound.

Too Little Too Late” brings us back to the vocal comparisons with Ed Sheeran in the opening piano simplicity and is likely to be inspired by one of his favourite artists Paul McCartney, but it becomes far more interesting with it’s gospel harmonies and contribution. Like with most of his work thus far, it is viaduct between blues and pop. “Stronger” ends with another acoustic resemblance to the debut, but with a demo quality complete with guitar slides and touching self reflecting lyrics: “Tell me where did we go wrong, did it start with the words in this song?” even if it doesn’t bring anything new or fascinating to the table.

Mi’das’ full length debut album released next year should bring the skeleton, the heart and the skin together, hopefully with additional embellishments that make our protagonist not only complete but with blistering personality. The midas touch you might say. Mi’das’ Stronger EP is out now via We Live Group, purchase it here.

Words by Matt Hobbs

About the author:

Matt Taylor Hobbs is an inquisitive and curious individual who’s attracted to the adrenalin-filled beauty and expansive nature of music and how it can encapsulate emotions of excitement and empathy. Matt thinks about music 24 hours a day and it gets him up in the morning. Matt’s interest in music started off at a young age when he was mentored by his father’s music tastes, who now works as an international nightclub DJ in central London. You can get better acquainted with his obsession for discovery at: www.matttaylorhobbs.wix.com/explorer. Follow him on Twitter / Facebook.

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