Before Rihanna released her hit single Stay in 2012, not many people knew who Mikky Ekko was. However, after the duet was nominated for the 2013 Best Pop Duo/Group Performance Grammy Award, people began to take notice of the young star. Collaborating with the likes of Rihanna, David Guetta, and DJ/producer Chris Malinchak, and releasing two singles and an EP, Ekko made his debut in the industry long before his album was released in January 2015.
The first track of Time is entitled Watch Me Rise, and has a slightly ethereal sound at the start. It is immediately clear that Ekko has an extraordinarily unique voice, belting high notes like they’re nothing and containing a strange tone quality similar to MAX’s. The second song, Smile, was used in the Paper Towns trailer, a popular movie released in the summer of 2015. With a calm yet upbeat tune, the song sounds like one you might listen to on a road trip – so it came as no surprise when it was used for Paper Towns. The lyrics sound very contrary at the beginning of the chorus, with “smile / the worst is yet to come / we’ll be lucky if we ever see the sun”, but then change to be a bit more optimistic (“but the future is forgiven / so smile”). Love You Crazy starts differently than either of the previous two, with lower notes and more harmonies, and is almost boyband-esque. However, U, the fourth song, is closer to the unorthodox styles of both Watch Me Rise and Smile. Time, the title track, starts with an acoustic guitar and Ekko’s echoing voice. Bringing in strings before the chorus, and going into an impressive falsetto in the beginning of the chorus, Time is a melancholy song with poetic, well-written lyrics. Mourning Doves, the seventh track, starts with quiet piano and Ekko singing along, but at 0:19, 0:34, and 0:41, strange screeching sounds are heard. Throughout the rest of the song, which is laden with different kinds of percussion, these sounds are repeated at varied pitches and volumes. The next track, Burning Doves, starts with piano and what sounds like bike wheels spinning, and birds chirping softly, before going into a seemingly normal song. Not only is Ekko unique in his usage of these particular sounds, it is also curious that two songs are named similarly and placed right next to each other on the album. Comatose starts with muffled vocals and the ever-present piano, and is written about a lost love. The slightly grim lyrics contribute to the feeling of sadness and melancholy (“cause all I really want is you to stay / maybe it’s easier/comatose”). Made of Light, the eleventh track, is a bit more upbeat in tune, but still vastly differs from Smile. Creating the sensation of being a part of a bigger community, the lyrics fit well with the overall feel of the song (“and tell them / we are made of light”). The last track, Pretend You Care, highlights Ekko’s tone quality again, and has the same percussion theme as Love You Crazy.
Apart from his voice and obvious talent, one of Mikky Ekko’s most redeeming qualities in his music is the ability to make people feel something. Although he isn’t a household name, keep an eye out – Ekko’s music is so much more than trailer soundtracks.