Over the last few years, Austin, TX based Mikaela Kahn has checked off many classic early 20s life milestones: graduated from college, moved to a new city, fallen in and out of love, embarked on her chosen career path. Of course her version isn’t entirely typical. College consisted of one of the world’s most acclaimed Jazz programs, and her career path included stints as a backup singer for an award winning Elvis impersonator and R&B luminary Chrisette Michele (including stops at Madison Square Garden and a support slot for R. Kelly). Still, these experiences helped Mikaela craft an extraordinary album out of the kinds of early adult experiences most anyone can relate to.
Mikaela’s debut full-length Milk & Honey is a collaboration with producer Justin Shelton. “We had always talked about writing together,” says Kahn, “but it never really worked out as we lived in different cities. One day he sent me a track he’d been working on and I got out my recorder, recorded a few freestyle melodies and lyrics, and everything just clicked. We finished our first song in about a week and it became “Losing You,” one of my favorites on the album.”
The album glides between pop and R&B touchstones, kicking off with the rousing lead single “Fire & Lace.” Expansive synth pads give way to shimmering guitar and a chilled out R&B groove before hitting the accelerator and shifting to a roll down the windows, shout the words in your car kind of chorus. Another standout, “Chemical Attraction,” sounds warped in from a 90s R&B/trip-hop dream. Mikaela rides the tightest groove of the record, sounding coolly sultry amid the retro, analog warmth of Shelton’s synths and guitar.
“I’m not afraid to write about things that are personal and vulnerable and I think that makes for more authentic songs,” says Mikaela. This statement is beautifully illustrated on “Losing You,” a touching ballad that sees her reaching emotive heights on a minimal R&B canvas that lets her charged vocals take center stage. “I Want You,” another highlight, immerses listeners in a moody electronic landscape reminiscent of current tastemakers like Frank Ocean and The Weeknd. Mikaela’s take turns on effortless vocal fireworks and understated hooks that are influenced by 90s legend Aaliyah.
With these seven tracks, Milk & Honey establishes Mikaela Kahn as an exciting new voice, unafraid to synthesize a variety of influences into a sound all her own.
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