Friday, June 08, 2007

Jesse Harris - The man behind the (wo)man

You might not recognize Jesse Harris' name at first sight, but I can almost guarantee you've heard his musical craftsmanship coming from the seductive mouth of Norah Jones; he wrote her smash mood-setting romantic ditty Don't Know Why (listen to his original version below). Although you probably recognize the song, you probably don't realize that the man behind it has six (soon to be seven with the release of Feel on July 10th) of his own albums to his credit. He's also slated to release the soundtrack for Ethan Hawke’s The Hottest State (out on Think Films in August 2007) of which he composed and produced.

I'll admit right off the bat, without even listening to the music I love the album title (Feel - it's just so open to personal interpretation) and the album cover (colorful, simple, and simply joyful). Delving into the album only reveals more reasons I've been listening to it compulsively lately.

First off, listen to the opening title track of the album, Feel, below. Tell me that it doesn't sound like a Fleetwood Mac song to you. I dare you to. I love it. Then check out the xylophone on Walk On, also available below.

Go deeper and the music remains just as good. Harris' voice reminds me of Paul Simon, and the musical stylings on the album remind me of Brett Dennen's last album with a tropical island feel to it. This last part can be attributed to the fact that Harris sites Brazilian music as the initial inspiration for the album. In fact, in conversations with noted percussionist Mauro Refosco, he originally was planning on recording the album in Rio de Janeiro with a Brazilian band backing him up but after realizing the complexity such a project might create, he instead decided to stick closer to home and let things go as they may.

Incredibly, the album only took three days to record, although you wouldn't know it by listening to it. Harris has lost the Ferdinandos (his band on previous albums) and instead recruited friends and others he's played with in the past to help shape what would become Feel. Even if you haven't heard any of his older music, try out the following and see how it makes you feel.

Jesse Harris - Feel : Feel

Jesse Harris - Walk On : Feel

and some older ones...

Jesse Harris and the Ferdinandos - Mirror Ball : While the Music Lasts

Jesse Harris and the Ferdinandos - Don't Know Why : Jesse Harris and the Ferdinandos

Visit his website, his label Velour Music, and become his friend on MySpace.

Jesse Harris Imitators

Fleetwood Mac - Go Your own Way
: Rumours

Paul Simon - Kodachrome : There Goes Rhymin' Simon

Brett Dennen - Darlin' Do Not Fear : So Much More

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