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It’s not unusual to find a rising star who will blow you off in a crowd, but even rarer to find someone who will stand in a crowd with you pointing at their own opener, and telling you how awesome their peers are. That’s local artist Mieka Pauley for you—an extremely talented, accomplished, and relatable artist who wants her friends to succeed as much as she deserves to. Playing smack in the middle of fellow local artist Jon Berman and New York artist Bri Arden at T.T. the Bear’s this past Wednesday night, Pauley played a stripped-down acoustic set to the delight of her fans and friends in anticipation of her latest release, June’s The Science of Making Choices.
Born in Massachusetts and a Harvard graduate, Pauley has been a frequenter of the WERS studios since the debut of her first full-length album and has been featured on WERS compilation Music for the Independent Mind: Volume Six. After winning the grand prize of the Starbucks Emerging Artist competition in 2005, Pauley began to build an extremely loyal fanbase that allowed her to tour country-wide and gain national repute, touring with big-name acts like Citizen Cope and Edwin McCain.
Opening with the new album’s title track, Pauley crooned her signature brutally-honest lyrics—“Let’s have another go,” she sang, “this time I won’t be a psycho.” Appreciative fans in the audience sported the slogan on a t-shirt, tokens of Pauley’s appreciation for contributing to the album’s production. The Science of Making Choices will be her second full-length album funded exclusively by her fans and followers, like 2007’s Elijah Drop Your Gun. In fact, her fundraising effort brought in over fifty percent more than her goal, and fans were handsomely rewarded. Followed up by an EP in 2009, this is her first full-length release in nearly five years, and she was very giving with her audience in playing new material.
In spite of a recent illness, Pauley’s voice was in prime condition with all the usual smooth, deep tones she’s known for as she treated the crowd to covers of Otis Redding’s “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” and the Leonard Cohen classic “Hallelujah”. Once an audience member can get past her golden voice, the lyricism beneath truly shines. Her most striking track of the night was “I Haven’t Even Started With You”, a slow acoustic piece that brought tears to her eyes. “Is it like when your friends say that you’ve had enough?” she asked. “How can you drown when you’ve nothing to drown on?” Between songs, the artist would keep the audience lively with anecdotes and shout-outs, and sang an a cappella version of the track “Marked Man”—because, she explained, she had cracked too many guitars keeping the beat.
Closing with an early hit from Elijah Drop Your Gun, Pauley played with “All the Same Mistakes” before handing the mic off to equally steamy-voiced Bri Arden. Returning to the crowd, she started chatting about how great the act following her was. From start to finish, Pauley has the enthusiasm and talent to make it big, and the release of her new album only promises great things for the future.
Pauley will be promoting The Science of Making Choices in the area again on June 29th at the Lizard Lounge.