Most would agree that Mykia Jovan’s debut album, Elliyahu, is good stuff. From the first you can tell it’s hip, what with throwback ’80s fusion and disco tinges being at the vanguard of popular music. Mykia’s delicate, fluttering voice glides over the dense weave of the instrumentation. Her lyrics are intimate and the collaboration of Jason Butler, Noah Young, and Walter Lundy on the arrangements has elevated the material beyond simple pop—it defies genre. Butler distinguishes himself on keys on nearly every track, Danny Abel plays a great guitar solo on “Feast on the Flower,” and Stephen J. Gladney’s tenor is a moody accent throughout the album.
However, Elliyahu goes beyond being just another solid iteration of neo-soul/jazz fusion. There is one track that distinguishes itself above the rest. That track is “16 Shots.” While it seems to allude to Trayvon Martin or Laquan McDonald, it could really be about any of the many, many black victims of police brutality in recent times. One can’t help but draw comparisons to Billie Holiday’s landmark protest song “Strange Fruit.” Mykia delivers the lyrics with the same feeling, alternating between lament and dark sarcasm. While it might seem the two songs are addressing independent issues, in reality they are speaking out about the same thing: violence against black bodies.
Hailing from the 17th Ward and always reppin’ Hollygrove, Mykia is a NOCCA graduate whose band is comprised of gifted players. This is the kind of fearless expression New Orleans needs.