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Rihanna’s ‘Stay’ co-star makes a middling solo debut

Mikky Ekko

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - AUGUST 22: Singer Mikky Ekko performs onstage at Heifer International's 3rd Annual "Beyond Hunger: A Place At The Table" Gala at Montage Beverly Hills on August 22, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for Heifer International)

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Mikky Ekko

Louisiana-born pop savant Mikky Ekko, a.k.a. John Stephen Sudduth, had a hell of a breakout with Rihanna’s “Stay,” the 2012 megahit he co-wrote and co-sang. Ekko’s debut solo LP similarly informs grand pop drama with indie idiosyncrasy – but never quite enough to distinguish it, his stirring tenor notwithstanding. The best moments are with “Stay” collaborator Elof Loelv: the fatalistically chipper single “Smile” and the necromantic “Mourning Doves,” which suggests a Sam Smith/Trent Reznor co-write. Elsewhere, the scale feels off: The gigantic melody of “Watch Me Rise,” for instance, deserves a voice more like Beyoncé’s. Then again, given Ekko’s track record, it may well end up getting one.

In This Article: Mikky Ekko

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