Song You Need to Know: Elissa Mielke, ‘Kind of Thing’

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Los Angeles-via-Canada singer-songwriter Elissa Mielke hardly shies away from alluding to her deeply religious upbringing on “Kind of Thing,” the first single from her gorgeous Finally EP. Her lyrics more oblique than autobiographical, though, taking on a character who’s “the kind of thing I used to sing about.”

“Here I find myself thinking/What if you are exiled/For my presumably sinful way of living/When I really am the freest of them all,” she sings in breathy tones that belie and counterbalance her defiant stance. That tension — hushed, barely-there vocals and minimal instrumentation from a confident singer who channels singer-songwriter bedrocks like Joni Mitchell and Carole King — runs through the entire EP. (Finally arrived recently as the first release on Slashie, the new imprint from Mom + Pop Music started by industry veteran Dana Meyerson,)

Mielke keeps her arrangements sparse, utilizing mostly piano and guitar with only light production flourishes. It works, allowing her dominant instrument — that richly textured voice that can evoke love, heartbreak, and nostalgia — to take the spotlight.

While she’s a relative newcomer as a singer-songwriter, the 31-year-old Mielke has a past life as a fashion model. (That’s her in the Weeknd’s 2012 video for “The Zone.”) As Pitchfork notes, a major-label deal in 2013 led to attempts to brand her a Katy Perry-esque pop star. “Kind of Thing” is proof that, at least for now, that life is a universe away. If anything, the song wouldn’t be out of place on Taylor Swift’s Folklore you can almost picture her leaving L.A. to decamp in some remote cabin with only a piano and a pullover.

Find a playlist of all of our recent Songs You Need to Know selections on Spotify.