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Jesse Harris

Watching the Sky

(Mercer Street; US: 3 Mar 2009; UK: 3 Mar 2009)

Jesse Harris appeared on many listeners’ radar when he wrote four songs for Norah Jones’ megasmash debut Come Away with Me (most notably, he penned “Don’t Know Why”). He’s been fairly busy since, and while covers of his songs by folks like Jones and Madeleine Peyroux have no doubt been good to his bank account, the eight records he’s released on his own (and with the Ferdinandos) show that he hasn’t been resting on his laurels. Watching the Sky is a natural follow-up to 2007’s Feel, which found Harris exploring bright arrangements and even a slight world-music vibe. Lyrically, though, Watching the Sky contains lyrics full of uncertainty and uneasiness, seemingly at odds with the precise songwriting. Harris’s pop craftsmanship, however, never translates into an emotional outburst, with much of the coloring coming from flashes of reggae (“On a Day”), Brazil (“What You Wanted”), and other styles. He’s calm, thoughtful, and restrained. It’s the kind of pop/rock that you can see other people transforming into hits, but also the kind of thing that Harris himself could do no other way.

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Andrew Gilstrap is a freelance writer living in South Carolina, where he's able to endure the few weeks each year that it's actually freezing (swearing a vow that if he ever moves, it'll be even farther south). Aging into a fine curmudgeon whose idea of heaven is 40 tree-covered acres away from the world, he increasingly wishes he were part of a pair of twins, just so he could try being the kinda evil one on for size. Musically, he's always scouring records for that one moment that makes him feel like he's never heard music before, but he long ago realized he needs to keep his copies of John Prine, Crowded House, the Replacements, Kate Bush, and Tom Waits within easy reach.


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By PopMatters Staff
12 Nov 2010
"Introspective, jazzy pop, but the through-line in all of Jesse Harris' work seems to be a pared-down, unfussy approach to music that clearly comes from the heart."
19 Sep 2010
The through-line of Through the Night seems to be a pared-down, unfussy approach to music that clearly comes from the heart.
17 Jul 2007
Feel is impeccable is nearly every way – except in its ability to engage the listener. That's kinda big.
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