“Well, call me loser, call me a thief / tell me I’m special when you spit at me.” Yep, those lyrics describe the range of sentiments throughout singer/songwriter Mikky Ekko’s debut album Time. Time is a love-centric album that examines the emotion at its best and at its worst — whether that’s likening love to mourning, a comatose state, or just being a loser. Time has it all, not to mention a concept that centers around its title, as time plays a key role throughout. Over its course, there is plenty to rave about, and of course some to quibble about as well.
On opener “Watch Me Rise”, Ekko shows off sensational pipes, setting a tone of vocal prowess characterizing the singer / songwriter’s performances throughout Time. Ekko’s tenor is ripe and chock full of power, with range that is absolutely silly — in a positive regard that is. The energy is successfully channeled, establishing momentum early on. This momentum continues into the thudding, four-on-the-floor groove of “Smile”, where Ekko paints a pessimistic picture, but urges optimism despite the unfortunate situation. “So smile, the worst is yet to come”, he sings on the chorus, “We’ll be lucky if we ever see the sun…But the future is forgiven so smile.”
“Love You Crazy” continues the commanding start for Ekko, filled with lovely, harmonized vocals that are as sweet as the most decadent chocolate. The production work screams “pop glory”, very much representing the modern bag of tricks and overall sound that thus far dominates in 2015. “U” follows, slickly tailored, if not more so, than everything preceding it. “U” embraces urban music, inviting Ekko’s lusty falsetto to do its work. “You tell me all the things you wanna do,” he sings, “Baby it’s your body, let it choose / to love, love, love, to love.” He hits the peak when he ascends effortless to a high G.
Title track “Time” retains energy, if more restrained than the former cuts. Still smothered in dedication and the desire for love, its obvious Ekko will do anything to attain her. His urgency progresses with the pacing of the record itself, as Ekko’s voice grows grander and more progressive. Time continues to be a dominant factor — “Cause the clock is ticking the clock is ticking / and I can’t figure out why we’re not freaking out” — this time courtesy of “Riot”. “Riot” contrasts everything else, filled with energy and drama. If it is a tone poem of sorts, Ekko and crew construct it just right.
Among the most beautiful songs of Time is “Mourning Doves”, where Ekko cleverly plays on the words “mourning” and “morning” in regards to love. Maybe the togetherness of failed love is meant to be an atonement, but it’s also desperate. That said it seems as if Ekko is conveying how low being brokenhearted will bring you, hence his mourning. Interestingly, “Burning Doves” follows, with more enthusiasm, groove, and tempo. “We’re too young to die today,” he sings optimistically on the refrain, “Cause we both know better than to set ourselves on fire / all in the name of love / we’re too young to be afraid to fly like burning doves.” Grouped together, “Mourning Doves” and “Burning Doves” offer a sound one-two punch.
Love continues to dominate on “Comatose”, another bummer by all means. Ekko’s vocals are clear as a bell, but his mind remains cloudy, ultimately suggesting, “maybe it’s easier comatose”. That’s an exaggeration obviously, and as painful as love and heartbreak can be, would anyone really want to be comatose? “Pull Me Down” continues on what is arguably a questionable road with love and relationships, as Ekko is absolutely too eager to settle here. The influence is bad, evidenced through lyrics like “No games just a slave to you totally” or “You can show me where trouble goes / tell me secrets only trouble knows.” Since Ekko is aiming to show the darker facets of love, he succeeds in that regard.
Atonement arrives with penultimate song “Made of Light”, which may be too bright for its own good. Heavily produced with layers of rhythmic, near-indecipherable vocals, “Made of Light” is a natural reaction following two darker numbers, but not necessarily on the same level as the elite. “Loner” concludes Time resolutely, not settling for worthless mourning or a comatose state. Standing tall, Ekko is “not a loner”, but claims he’ll “be a loner ‘til my lover comes over… I’ll be in pain until this suffering is over.” Essentially, he’s still hurt but not totally broken and has optimism about his future in love — in time, respectfully.
Ultimately, Mikky Ekko has plenty of pros working well for him throughout Time. He does a fine job of tying in the concept of time throughout, which gives this album more than just a title track or a generic title. Vocally he is beastly — few possess such remarkable pipes. The production work supporting him is also a selling point, helping to bring out his dramatic, complete vocal performances. The material also has its high points, though its love-centricity does wear on without much contrast from the tried and true. Overall though, it’s hard to knock potential and promise, and Ekko has ample amounts of both.