Thursday, May 31, 2007

Reviews:: Jesse Harris Feel

As the bongos rattle in the background of the title track of Jesse Harris new record Feel, you can’t help but be drawn into the sounds. The song is fairly simple; an acoustic strum with some cymbal crashes and a bizarre electric solo tossed in for good measure, but the percussion makes you want to keep listening. And to be honest, when it comes to singer songwriters, making you want to keep listening is the biggest challenge.

Jessie Harris is an artist that seems destined to become a household (or maybe IPOD) name. He wrote one of Norah Jones biggest hits. He’s worked with Conor Oberst. He was hand-picked by Ethan Hawke to pen the tracks for the soundtrack to The Hottest State and the songs are performed by artists like Willie Nelson, Cat Power, Feist, M. Ward, and The Black Keys, and in today’s world of music consumption, that type of exposure is usually all that is needed to push an artist over the top.

Yet somehow, Harris style flies under the radar; appreciated by artists but unknown by fans who already love some of his songs. I think the release of Feel will finally have people talking about Jesse, not just wondering who the guy on stage collecting Norah’s grammy is. Let me be clear, I am not trying to sell Harris short, as Feel is an enjoyable listen, full of great songs. His use of percussion on tracks like Walk On and It Washed Away oozes Paul Simon, and his song writing will surely hit home with NPR listeners. But that has always been the case with Harris.

His records are not dependent on a cohesiveness that highlights a specific vision or emotion, but more as a showcase for his unique ability to write a song for almost anyone. The southern feel of Shadow is in complete contrast to the coffee shop, laid back feel of the cymbal washed I Don’t Mind or the reggae back beat of Fire on the Ocean.

I don’t think Harris thinks in terms of records, although this is number seven for him, but instead he finds a rhythm or a chord progression and works with it until he feels content. Sometimes the finished product seems like it came to him in a split second, like the gentle banjo and tick-tock percussion of I Would (which is as delicate as any track on the album). Other times it involves layers and textures, and I get the impression his perfectionist nature won’t let him leave a song until he’s completely satisfied with how it sounds, and that’s why the record feels so complete.

MP3:: I Don’t Mind

web site :: myspace

Posted at 12:30 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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