First Appeared in The Music Box, July 2007, Volume 14, #7
Written by John Metzger
Wed July 18, 2007, 06:00 AM CDT
Singers, not the songwriters, are the ones who get all of the attention. Those who desire proof donít need to look any further than Jesse Harris, the man who propelled Norah Jones to superstardom on the strength of the breakthrough single Donít Know Why. Despite winning a Grammy Award for the tune and getting her to sit in on his subsequent set While the Music Lasts, he remains a relatively unknown commodity outside the immediate circle of Jonesí biggest fans. Unfortunately, his seventh effort Feel isnít likely to propel him up the charts any more than its predecessors did. When it is taken at face value, however, the album has as many engaging moments as it does pleasantly innocuous ones.
With Feel, Harris proves once again that there is no end to his ability to find a good hook for his songs, and the confidence with which he delivered his previous endeavor Mineral has carried over to his new album. Although he now is more comfortable performing his material than he appeared to be on his earlier efforts, he, nonetheless, continues to struggle with finding his own voice. To be fair, however, Jones ran off with most of what he had been sculpting for himself. Tunes such as If I Had No Name and I Donít Mind might be Harris at his purest, but Jonesí shadow looms so large that the songs sound as if they might have been written for her to sing.
When Harris does move beyond the Jones-y intimations, he wanders onto ground that already has been well trodden. No fewer than three tracks are heavily influenced by Paul Simon: Both Walk On and It Washed Away draw from Gracelandís intricate rhythms, while the gently glistening How Could It Take So Long is more akin to Simonís self-titled debut. On You and Me, Harris takes the intriguing approach of fusing John Mayerís blue-eyed soul to the mystical folk of Astral Weeks-era Van Morrison, and the somewhat feistier title track comes off as one of Lindsey Buckinghamís leftovers. Granted, everything on Feel is tackled credibly and convincingly by Harris, but in the end, it slips by so indistinctly that it also is very easy to forget.
Feel is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2007 The Music Box