Music Monday: Elijah Drop Your Gun and From The Mouth Of Paris EP by Mieka Pauley

Elijah album coverYes, I am cheating enormously by giving you two this week, even if one is a four-track EP. And while both are Creative Commons-licensed, you have to pay for them. But the money goes directly to the artist, and she kicks ass, so quit yer complainin’.

Mieka Pauley has been an indie performer for more than a decade, winning a number of contests, and supporting herself solely through her music for all that time.

And if you give her work half a chance, it’s not hard to see how she’s able to do so.

Her lyrics are intelligent, thoughtful, often quite wickedly clever, and always satisfying. Her melodies are pleasing, engage the listener directly, and often anticipate and trump the listener’s expectations by doubling back and doing something much better than expected.

I’m also biased toward her because she has done quite a number of songs that make me feel she’s spent time spelunking in my subconscious and writing out what she found there.

Elijah Drop Your Gun is her first full-length album, yet it’s completely mature work. The third song, “Secret”, is just one example of how her lyrics work at multiple levels, setting up your expectations and then pulling the rug out from under you:

Can you keep a secret and guard it with your life
Can you keep a secret, cross your heart, hope to die
Would it stay between us, just simple words between us
Can you keep a secret this time

Those last two words come out of nowhere and turn the entire verse from an expression of cautious trust into a knife in the back, with a good solid twist added in.

I have many theme songs, and Mieka sings several of them. The one on this album is the kick-ass rocker “Be Like The Man”:

Be like the Man, be like the Mob
Be like the State, be like a God

Get mad, get mad, dress yourself in black
This cannot wait, you gotta take it back
Get mad, get mad, dress yourself in black
And prove it, do you want it back

What’s interesting about this song beyond the adrenaline-pumping tune is, again, the complexity. It is an anthem, but it’s also a challenge and an expression of preemptive contempt. (She tells the story of writing the song in live shows — the chorus is what it is because those are the four things “you do not fuck with”.)

albumThe EP From The Mouth Of Paris was originally done as a release for a band, The Mieka Canon, but that project seems to have fallen by the wayside, and it is now listed as a solo. In any case, it is a group of four great songs and no bad ones.

“Colossal” might well be titled “The Sociopath’s Song”:

Be honest, be straight:
Do you wanna make a colossal mistake
As much as I do?

“We’re All Gonna Die” is blackly funny when you know that it’s written from her own life. Her husband is (or was) a stand-up comedian, and she “got” to hear him work up his material from inspiration onward, which meant that he kept telling her about awful news stories as he was sifting through them, things that most people shrug off, but which left her, as she put it one time, curled up on her bed sobbing.

“Faster”, my favorite song on the release, is simply a brilliant piece of songwriting. It captures perfectly the yearning to be healed when you know you’re broken, the “if I could just have x, things would be better”, and each verse demonstrates how “x” is never what you thought it would be once you get it.

Finally, “That Golden Room” is a piece of quiet beauty, a different take on yearning, this time for that moment in your life when everything was Right, but you didn’t realize it until after it had already changed.


Creative Commons License
Elijah Drop Your Gun by Mieka Pauley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Creative Commons License
From The Mouth Of Paris by Mieka Pauley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 Unported License.

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