album reviews

Jesse Harris
Velour Music Group (2007)

If singer-songwriter Jesse Harris's breezy, light-jazz sound feels like the male equivalent of early Norah Jones, there's good reason: Harris wrote a number of songs on Jones's debut album, including her breakthrough hit "Don't Know Why." As the omnipresent references to that collaboration in articles about Harris (including this one) can attest, he may always be overshadowed by his behind-the-scenes songwriting work.

Harris doesn't do much to help his cause, though, as his style on his CD "Feel" is laid-back almost to the point of indifference. The swaying title track lulls with its effortless rhythms, but Harris's lyrical repetitions never seem to develop or grow, and his honey-sweet murmuring accusation, "you don't care, you don't care, you don't care" might as well be aimed at a mirror. "You and Me" lacks the passion that its pleading lyrics demand, while a tune musing about anonymity ("If I Had No Name") meanders just as aimlessly as the song's subject. It's a shame that Harris hasn't developed a voice to match his strong track record as a songwriter; this collection of three-minute songs is ripe for reinterpretation by more expressive and e ngaging performers.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 21 September 2007, Page WE11
.: Feel on