Melissa Harris, working under the name Born Days, brings considerable artistic flair and musical substance to the single release “Is This Reality?” It is the first cut we are hearing from her sophomore EP release Where We Live and the Chicago headquartered singer/songwriter has made clear strides past her admittedly fine 2017 debut. The new single and EP are, at their heart, DIY efforts not supported by any major label, but musicians and songwriters are far past the point where the hoary traditional gatekeepers matter. There’s nothing amateurish or rough-hewn about Harris’ art or musical sound. She synthesizes a number of musical elements into a greater whole and it reflects what she has learned from recent touring experiences and from recording her debut. “Is This Reality?” is Harris’ new reality – she stands among the leading lights of indie music and has the talent to carry her even further.
The bulk of the single is built around electronic backing. I assume the drums are electronic in nature, as well, but Born Days deserves fulsome plaudits for making them sound as “live” and as natural as possible if so. She weaves quite a spell juxtaposing deliberate and slowly evolving synthesizer lines against the upbeat percussive lift. “Is This Reality?” clocks in at just under the four minute mark and her focus is evident throughout the composition – there is no wasted motion. I do object a little how her voice is positioned within the mix. Harris is a fine singer with and should be better defined in the single’s sound, but her emotive powers and the lyrics come through clear nonetheless.
No one can accuse her of writing to formula. “Is This Reality?” grapples with questions and concerns far outside the purview of your typical pop influenced cut without ever succumbing to self-indulgence. The same focus she brings to the musical arrangement finds its way into her lyric writing as well. Harris never uses two words when one will do and doesn’t attempt remaking the songwriting wheel, but “Is This Reality?” sparkles with brevity and intelligence we hear from far too few modern artists. She is intent on saying something substantive with her songwriting as well as entertaining listeners. Born Days hits both benchmarks with room to spare.
One of the more impressive aspects of her art, for me, is that she doesn’t recall any other artist. She traffics in a recognizable sound and genre, this is true, but Harris’ Born Days vehicle never feels or sounds beholden to its predecessors and lands in listener’s laps with unique stylishness. She has made an excellent choice for the album’s first single and, if the remaining tracks on this forthcoming release are its equal or better, music fans will be treated to one of the year’s finest efforts from anyone, any genre. “Is This Reality?” is a glittering electronic jewel, but there’s a beating heart within this song that, if given the chance, will affect all but the most jaded of music fans, casual and hardcore alike.
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