Day Dawns is a truly exceptional debut album from Melissa James, a singer-songwriter who has already been causing a stir at her live shows and attracting a steady stream of followers, entranced by her earthy, soulful sound. Fusing her love of blues, folk, jazz and soul, Melissa’s songs take the listener on mini detours, which often open up to reveal the sometimes raw elements of her innermost thoughts. Combined with the velvety power of her delivery, it makes for a spine tingling experience.
Melissa first began singing seriously whilst at university. In between lectures and seminars, she’d listen intently to recordings by Bessie Smith, Holiday and Simone and ponder the lyrics of singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell. Mentally, she’d take notes before putting into practice what she’d learned in her slot at a Sunday night jam. A local ad put her in touch with her writing partner, Ross Lorraine. In very little time, they completed three songs, one of which – I Miss You – is one of their strongest collaborations. “I wrote it late at night and the lyrics, melody and some of the harmony ideas came quickly, says Melissa. It felt like this song had been waiting to be born
Three years on, the album Day Dawns has emerged. It embraces all of Melissa’s musical influences – Little Caged Bird is catchy soulful-pop and tells the metaphorical tale of a bird realising its dream. The soulful and gospel-tinged I Need You Here speaks of missing a lost love and the country and folk-influenced Long Road Travelled details a journey in self-discovery. Her gutsy version of Eric Bibb’s song Don’t Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down is one of two covers featured on the album.