Delra Harris – Vibe

 Delra Harris – Vibe

Delra Harris – Vibe – Album Review

If you knew what I knew, then you’d know that there’s no way Delra Harris is gonna let you down with his music whenever this dude releases a brand-new record.  Stoked to have this dude back in action!

I’ll never forget you,” Delra sings on “Walk With Me Lord – V21” – and I hear ya my brother, “I’ll never forget you” either!  Alright…it’s fair to assume he’s probably not referring to me directly in his song, but I do mean what I’m saying.  We last had Harris on our pages back in 2017, and this is one of the rare faith-based artists out there that even had me believin’!  So you better believe I’m excited to have him back on our pages, and more importantly, back behind the microphone & singing his heart out for YOU – this dude’s a genuine talent and I haven’t forgotten him for a moment in between when I heard him last and now.  I’d also be willing to bet there’s a bunch of you out there feeling the same way that have been looking forward to Delra’s return to the scene & that next record…and well…here it is!  That time is now!

All that being said, it’s probably fair to say that Vibe is a pretty melancholy album, and one that’s unafraid to put emotion right under the microscope.  Right from the get-go on “Walk We Me Lord – V21,” you can hear how Harris has a lot on his mind and in his heart…”even though I’ve learned a lot now, there’s a lot more for me to learn now…you would think that I know…you’d think I know how.”  He’s essentially in the grips of the struggle, and trying to find his way, right here in real-time, out in the open…and there’s gonna be a whole lot of people listening that’ll appreciate that.  Leaning on the strengths provided by his faith, “Walk We Me Lord – V21” is vulnerable and real, open and honest – and a true apology for the times he’s fallen and not been the best version of himself that he was capable of being.  Don’t act like you don’t know what he’s singing about, because we’ve all been there; some of us have an all-too-easy way of forgiving ourselves, and chances are, we’re doomed to repeat out mistakes as a result of not paying attention to the lessons involved…and then there are other folks like Harris that can potentially spend a bit too much time not forgiving their mistakes & finding a way to move on from them…somewhere in between those spaces, resides real clarity, acceptance, forgiveness, and self-love.

“Peace” is full proof of how relevant Delra’s entire sound still is to this very day, and further confirmation of the true crossover appeal he has in his music.  Probably the number one choice from the set as far as singles go, I’d be taking a good look at putting this track out there with a video & such to draw the people into listening to Vibe for sure.  At the end of the day, this whole record is very much rooted in a minimalistic style…and we’ll go into that more as the album plays on – but with respect to that, “Peace” has a bit more tangible Vibe to it, making it a great candidate to be that lead single to represent the album.  It’s a song about finding “Peace,” knowing where “Peace” comes from for Delra personally, and understanding that there’s a whole lot to go through in this lifetime to achieve “Peace,” and even then, the struggle for it don’t exactly end.  Delra’s clearly got a lot on his mind that he’s been dealing with – much of which he’ll sing about right in the open as this set-list continues and on this very song itself…it’s a level of honesty and directness you don’t often hear from anyone out there.  Endearing to a point too if you ask me…we have empathy for a guy like Harris, and genuinely want him to find “Peace.”

The minimalism of this record becomes even more apparent right at the beginning of “Your Will” – and Delra’s voice makes an even bigger impact on ya when his music has a larger amount of space.  It’s on his shoulders to carry the entire melody on a track like this, where he’s basically rockin’ the mic with a simple beat in behind him – and he’s doin’ it for three-minutes!  What’s brilliant about it is the fact that you’ll never get anywhere even close to bored…this dude sounds spectacular.  I thought this whole song was an extremely brave move for an artist to make in general, and even more risky when you consider that it’s this early on in the record & that the beat is nearly the same pace & sound as you’ll hear in “The Enemy” right after it.  While I might think a track like “Peace” is still gonna be the best choice as a single, that’s largely due to hooks & accessibility & all that…and I’m thinkin’ more about YOU in those scenarios than I am about ME…if you asked me what the strongest song on this record is, I’d probably be much more inclined to answer back with “Your Will.”  It takes real strength and courage to put yourself out there like Delra does here…it’s really all up to his voice to pull a song like this off right, and through the various layers from the lead to the background, he makes the most of every moment.  He might be mired in the thick of confusion, but when it comes time to lead by example and confront that head-on, it’s songs like “Your Will” that prove he’s got what it takes to do that, and reveals where he draws his own strength from in his unbreakable faith.  So while a track like “Your Will” might appear to practically be built on bare bones, it’s immensely satisfying how much is considered & goes into a moment like this.

On “The Enemy” Delra incorporates a clever call/answer design to the hooks.  If you’ve been following along with the whole story here, knowing his roots in faith & such…I think it’s fairly safe to say we know who “The Enemy” IS without Harris having to mention the dude by name.  The lyricism he puts into “The Enemy” pretty much confirm it all if you ask me…though I have to be somewhat careful that I’m not just projecting of course…I highly suspect he’s talkin’ bout the devil himself on this tune.  Like I said, it’s just my theory…you might have your own…but I think when you’re listening to it, you’ll find the devil is in the details, know what I mean?  It makes me really appreciate the main hook he’s put into this song, where he’ll sing “why are you still here?” – it’s both a genuine question, and a plea for some peace, all at the same time.  He’s performed this moment brilliantly…almost like he’s somewhat shocked by the fact the devil never leaves, and almost half in acceptance of it, knowing the fact that he never really goes away and that he’s always looking for that next opportunity to munch on a soul or two.  “The Enemy” is highly interesting…because it COULD be about what I’ve cited…but “The Enemy” COULD be Delra too if you’re listening to his lyricism at the very beginning of this song and consider the apologetic nature of this entire album in-full.  So that all-important line/hook of “why are you still here?” almost becomes more of a direct shot at himself…like questioning why anyone would want to be with him; whether or not that’s the devil or God, or someone he loves…he takes ownership of the pain he’s caused to others.

Most of the tracks on Vibe are actually fairly short, hovering around the 2:30-3:00 mark for the most part, with “Done” ushering in the shorter side of the spectrum.  You’ll find some fantastic highlights for Delra’s vocals within this song, punctuating the crucial importance of moving on, and being “Done” with relationships that don’t benefit the man behind the music, or hinder his progress in moving forward.  Do religious folks have time for Prince?  They must right – don’t we all?  Delra reminds me a lot of the guy here in the way he sings this tune and hits those high end notes of his with such superbly stylistic craft.  It’s much more of an R&B style of sound than you’d find in the Pop-laden music of Prince of course, but if you listen to the harmonies & the high-notes, you’ll likely feel the comparison is justified too.  Anyhow – “Done” has got a whole lot of soul and straightforward words…it’s about coming to grips with what’s real, no matter how hard that might be…and as a result of doing that, the reclamation of strength and the pathway forward becomes illuminated.  There are moments of Vibe that sound extremely specific to me…like Delra’s made this album for one set of ears to listen to, and we’re just lucky enough to be here for the ride through it…but yeah…he continually refers to a relationship he’s no longer involved in, which would definitely lead us to assume he’s been hurting, and that this record is built for his catharsis.

The mid-section of Vibe flies by pretty quickly, with most of the record’s shortest tracks lined-up one after the other, and as a result of their tiny timeframes, it’s essentially left up to Delra to make the maximum impact he can in what little time he’s got to do it.  “Different” makes excellent use of the music and production to establish a bit of uniqueness from the rest of this set…on that level, it’s definitely “Different” – much of this whole album is designed as bare-bones as it could potentially be.  Still somewhat of an admission of what he’s done wrong in a part-apology/part-self-punishment type of way…you can’t help but feel for Harris in the themes he’s chosen to write about throughout this record – this dude is extremely hard on himself and we’re somewhat left to wonder what it’ll take for him to heal and move forward.  “Different” is about finding whatever that might take, embracing it, and reaching that next-level.  The songs on Vibe definitely speak on behalf of things he’s done that he’s not particularly proud of…this one more specifically pointed towards that theme than others; but these cuts aren’t entirely without hope either – you can tell he genuinely wants to be the best version of himself.

“Rain On Me” is probably one of the tracks I’d be looking at as a potential single to be putting out there as the gateway into the album…it’s got that extra tinge of accessibility, a bit more to it musically, and a stellar performance from Harris, as you’d expect at this point.  The man’s gifted…no doubt about that – I have a few moments here & there as I’ve been listening to Vibe where I’ve probably wanted a bit more to the material overall in terms of balance between the music & the microphone, but to be entirely fair, minimalism is definitely a style that many people out there love for the clarity it contains.  “Rain On Me” seems to strike that balance that I’ve been looking for just a bit more than the majority of the lineup by comparison…I wouldn’t at all say he’s overdone it, I still think Delra’s got room to add more to the music if he ever wanted to – but he hasn’t stuffed it so full that he’d turn off those folks looking for the sound & minimalistic style they love to hear from Harris either.  The difference in the overall level of universal accessibility completely resides on giving listeners just a bit more than he tends to, that’s it, that’s all – he doesn’t need to move musical mountains, just shift things slightly like he does on “Rain On Me” to bring out the hooks that much more.  It makes a difference in general in my opinion – I’d still fully categorize a song like this as minimalistic, so it don’t damage his street cred if that’s the Vibe he was going for…but in terms of how HE sings his songs, adding just a bit more help in the melody through the music audibly leads Delra to a more discernably confident performance that we can hear in his singing.

He’s got the ability to provide comfort through a variety of methods, and employs them all throughout Vibe in a bunch of different ways.  You’ve got his faith in The Lord that does it, you’ve got his examples of his own personal experiences & relatable lyricism that examines the trials & tribulations of LIFE up close that’ll do it, and you’ve got moments like “You Can Make It” that go for a much more direct style of positivity-infused music that’ll give ya that uplifting boost too.  Ultimately, I think that each method Delra uses is effective in its own way, and I think that’s one of the aspects of his music that people will connect with the most…he’s an altruistic dude that isn’t just looking to score chart-topping hits so much as create music that can help guide and heal the masses out there – and I’ve got love & respect for that.

Whereas a lot of this record deals with feelings & emotions that have revealed Delra’s vulnerability, and less confident moments where he’s been spinning his wheels in the confusion of figuring out the best way to move forward, the antithesis to that is found within the core strengths of “Rock With You.”  This would be a solid example of Harris at maximum confidence…it’s hard to say that this gear has been entirely absent throughout Vibe…there have been hints of it, but none nearly as direct and upfront as you find on “Rock With You” – and honestly, it sounds GREAT.  I felt like this song breaks through the clouds that have been hovering over a lot of this material…we’ve all been looking for Delra to find that uplifting spark needed to move forward in life & love – and we get a real good glimpse of what that can be like on “Rock With You.”  If anything, I’d be the first to tell ya that we could do with a whole lot more of this particular gear from the guy.  I get it though…some emotions, thoughts, and feelings come more naturally to us when we write than others do…when I was making music, I’d pretty much be consistently in an internal gear overanalyzing my thoughts and emotions from a critical point of view & perspective, because that’s where my mind naturally went and Delra seems to be very much the same in that regard.  I’m just sayin’ though…a track like “Rock With You” proves he’s got varied strengths in his songwriting, and that he can write in a happy gear every bit as effectively as he communicates his personal despair.  It’s something to consider…food for thought, as they say – and we are what we eat, right?  Sometimes we have to create that happiness we seek out for ourselves…a track like “Rock With You” should fully encourage Harris that he’s capable of making his own sunshine to break through the clouds of emotion.

Dude’s got a really authentic voice in this music scene we share.  You might find the odd comparable moment to someone like Prince or Frank Ocean, but for the vast majority of what you’ll experience, it’s really all Delra Harris owning his own, you feel me?  “Get Me Out” is an excellent example that you can point to…once again, backed up pretty much by a beat and the bare minimum, it really makes you appreciate just how little the man needs alongside him to keep your ears fully engaged and your mind entertained.  I really like a lot of what he’s created on this record with his voice and the layers he’s used in between the lead & the background…it’s not only fairly unique to his own sound specifically, but it’s got an allure of its own design-wise.  Harmonies are great, the ideas are strong, the production is on-point…all that stuff checks out.  “Get Me Out” is a further plea to stay on the path he wants to be on; somewhat asking for clarity, rescue, and respite from the purgatory of despair and potentially straying from the life he wants to be leading.  Delra’s not afraid to break some hearts in those of us listening in order to keep things real in the music he’s making…a lot of Vibe isn’t exactly all that easy to listen to on a thematic level…it’s a fairly sad record overall, self-critical, and finds Harris more down on his luck than happy-go-lucky this time around.  “Get Me Out” is somewhat asking The Lord to illuminate the path to his future, while still acknowledging the struggles he’s been going through to be where he’s at right now.

“Better – Outro” is a very down to earth conclusion for Vibe…an apology from Delra of sorts, which to an extent, has been a lot of what this whole album has centered around.  “I shoulda known better” is a line you’ll hear pop up throughout this song, and you’ll feel the weight of the emotion at work here – Delra’s hurt someone he loves…and chances are, that person knows exactly who they are – so in a sense, it’s fair to say that songs like this are written for a very specific audience rather than everyone all at once.  Music can be very individualistic in that regard at times…and while it might narrow the audience from time to time, it’s still an important thing…it’s like our journal or diary, opened up for all to read in words sung aloud instead…and ultimately, it’s equally crucial that we hear our own thoughts & feelings echoed back to us as a reminder to do better than we’ve done in order to become better going forward.  Life is about learning y’all…religious or not, it’s about going forward and evolving our minds to that next level – and that’s a lot of what “Better – Outro” seems to be about at its core…a reminder of the mistakes that have been made, set here in audible stone, so that Harris never forgets who he is or where he came from, but more importantly, to remember what the goals really are & keep them firmly within his sight.  There’s real weight in this final tune…an emotional gravity that practically crushes us when you consider how much Delra has done for others in making these songs…the idea that he’s having trouble forgiving himself for the mistakes he’s made stings…but it’s another aspect of his music that speaks volumes on behalf of the man behind the microphone, and how much he wants to improve today from yesterday.

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