Soft and gentle yet strong enough to carry a verse from the heavens unto us mere mortals, there’s no need for any debating this one – Johnnie Mikel’s voice is the consummate commanding element of the new single and lyric video for “Nothing to Lose.” Mikel is only one half of the writing team that composed this track, but there’s no question that his heart is the primary force driving it home this June. “Nothing to Lose” starts off with a lot of chill-inducing magic and only gets more captivating as we push through its three minute running time.
Getting past the vocal here, the beat in this single is definitely something that adds significant depth to the lyrics Mikel is singing to us. There’s not a ton of polish on the drum parts, and I like that this is the case – by keeping all of the sparkle on the vocal and off of the black and white parts in the song, we’re never forced to divide our attention between two profoundly bright components in the track. That’s smart producing at its most basic, but it’s still more than what a lot of mainstream artists are creating this season.
The mix here is very meticulous in design, almost as if it was conceived with the sole purpose of emphasizing each component’s texture more than anything else here. The piano, as scarcely as it owns a piece of the greater picture in this single, is a cushion for Mikel’s words in the refrain that no other instrument could have been, while the string parts and the percussion reinforce the mood with a heavy dose of physicality that gives “Nothing to Lose” more of a punch than most pop music is allowed to contain. There’s no room for rule-following in this single – Mikel has too lofty an ambition to allow for such banality.
I really enjoy the lyric video for “Nothing to Lose,” but I definitely didn’t need its fanciful imagery to get lost in the grooves that this song was built atop. Johnnie Mikel has a way of making us forget about the cares and worries that fill up our nine to five lives when he approaches the microphone in his latest single, but he’s not reliant on a synthesized agent of evocation when finishing us off. He’s got an old school integrity to his style that I have to hear more of, and I don’t think I’m the only fan who feels this way right now.
Judging from what he’s done in “Nothing to Lose,” I think we can all agree that Johnnie Mikel just might have found his artistic center after three years of experimenting in and out of the recording studio. Mikel is melding R&B swing with a dynamic pop adrenaline in this song that could lead to some very exciting hybrid content in the future, but for what it’s indicating about his present abilities, listeners everywhere would be rather foolish to dismiss his output as anything other than prime material from a fresh star in the making.
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