REVIEW – Mike Kota’s “Little Tugs” radiates pure tenderness

By Macie Rasmussen

In January, the Twin Cities musician Mike Kota performed at First Avenue for the venue’s Best New Bands of 2022 show. During the set, she led the audience in a spoken self-affirmation: “I am stronger than I know.” Kota’s first 2023 single, “Little Tugs,” acts as an affirmation for a loved one as she sings, “Little hugs/Wish I could give you little hugs/I wanna shower you with my love/I got you baby/You’re enough.” 

The ballad with mid-range vocals is led by acoustic guitar and furnished with deep piano chords. Joey Carl Hays (Boyish, Brunette, Huhroon, Bad Bad Hats, Sass, Papa Mbye, Yellow Ostrich) strikes a bass drum covered in grand reverb to amplify the intensity of emotion and create even greater space for Kota’s voice to seep into. Her haunting hums play in an oasis of serenity. 

The artist concludes “Little Tugs” by repeating the line, “I got you baby/You’re enough.” The verse relates to the belief that people adapt to words informing their self-concept, and by bestowing gentle love, Kota seems to accept her own affirmation: She is stronger than she knows. This hypnotizing single sets her up for increased attention, riding on the tailwinds of an opening set for Hozier at First Avenue last week.

Mike Kota performs with a full band at Grand Oak Opry in St. Paul on June 17. 

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