Melissa Harris, singer/songwriter and producer, works under the name Born Days and garnered much deserved acclaim and notice for her 2017 debut EP Be True. The soon to be released successor to that release, another EP entitled Where We Live, builds on the strengths of her first outing and advances her artistry several more steps based on the quality of “Is This Reality?”, the EP’s first single. Born Days mixes contrasting elements in a compelling way and has a sure hand shaping the song’s dramatic heft – the coupling of near-ethereal electronic strands, an uptempo percussion track, and her upper register vocals captures your attention from the outset. She has latched onto an idiosyncratic style that, with each new release, she fleshes out more and more. It makes for an invigorating introduction to her forthcoming release and bodes well for its success.
Her vocals are ideal for the musical setting and she brings ample emotion to bear on the lean, economical writing. The various threads tying “Is This Reality?” together into a coherent whole are orchestrated with keen attention to detail and a minimum of fuss, but few elements in the track illustrate this better than the interplay between her vocals and the arrangement. She exercises immense patience with her vocal, never rushing a single line, and modulates the emotional peaks and valleys of the track with polish and humanity alike.
She, likewise, elevates a fine lyric to the level of minimalist performed poetry. She has audible commitment to every word and never overwrites; it is all the more impressive when you consider the challenging concepts underpinning the song’s concept that she accomplishes so much with what seems to be so little verbiage. All too often in modern music, and even music of the past, lyrical content is a near afterthought designed to serve the arrangement and nothing more. Harris, however, incorporates the best of both worlds – “Is This Reality?” has something to say with genuine merit and it is clear she composed those lyrics with the music very much in mind.
House, techno, and industrial (to a lesser extent) all have places at the table with this song. It is far from some semi-raucous dance number, though it does physically engage listeners, and instead places a much higher premium on atmospherics over ear-catching flourishes. The arrangement is sturdy and the production on point – she has taken great pains to blend the disparate strands of the song into an unified whole and the track possesses an audible punch without ever overwhelming listeners.
Melissa Harris’ Born Days project is gaining traction with each new release. Her debut was auspicious, but she raises her game more than a few notches with this single and it promises that the pending Where We Live EP will consolidate the success experienced with that initial release. 2019 is shaping up to be a banner year for Harris’ artistic ambitions and she sounds confident, focused, and ready for even more triumphs in the future. “Is This Reality?” solidifies her standing as one of the more interesting writers and performers in indie music today.