Renowned singer-songwriter Jesse Harris has announced release plans for his latest album, Aquarelle, to be released on Secret Sun Records on September 7th. From the album, recorded in Lisbon, Portugal last year, comes the first song, “Out Of Time”, accompanied by a video shot by director dAVID sTRANGE.
Harris will play a special hometown record release show at Union Pool in Brooklyn – with special guests – Joanna Sternberg and Frank LoCrasto – on September 6th. Tickets here!
As a songwriter, guitarist and producer Harris has been something of a lynchpin of the New York City music scene for over a decade. While the Greenwich Village era of a world renowned songwriting community may be a distant memory, Jesse Harris continues the ethos with his consistently interesting collaborations and uncanny knack for bringing like minded musicians together.
In the summer of 2017, two of his frequent collaborators Will Graefe (guitar) andJeremy Gustin (drums) were playing a festival in Vilnius, Lithuania and thought it would be fun to record an album with Jesse in Lisbon, Portugal with their mutual friend Ricardo Dias Gomes. Jesse had never been to Lisbon so he accepted the offer and set to work. In the weeks leading up to the recording, he wrote some new material, such as “Out of Time,” a sort of fusion between an ESG-type beat and Tropicalia, which not only he finished two days before the session but was the first song recorded at the studio (the band had never even heard it); “Rolling By,” a lyric of hope and warning over music of Bossa-meets-60s-English-Rock; and”Carousel,” a moody instrumental named for the traditional Portuguese restaurant where the band and recording engineer would eat lunch every day.
Says Harris, “Though Will, Jeremy and I play together often, the addition of a new element in Ricardo on bass (who is from Rio and has played for years with one of my idols, Caetano Veloso), combined with the inspiration of Lisbon, brought out a sort of exuberance, light, and rhythm that I don’t think we would have found in New York.”
Back in New York, and later on in LA, Harris invited friends to add overdubs of keyboards, vocals, strings, and horns. Valerie June makes a special guest appearance to duet on “Listen To The Wind.” Petra Haden sings harmonies on”Grapes Grow Sweeter In The Sun” and “Eyes Of Fire.” And Sophia Brous(Exo-Tec, Dream Machine) duets on the Exotica-inspired “Never Say Goodbye”and layers rich vocal arrangement on the jouncy “Sometimes You Have To Choose Sides.” Other guests include Rob Moose (strings) and CJ Camerieri(horns), both of whom play in the group yMusic, and keyboardists Jason Lader,Jesse Carmichael and Thomas Bartlett (aka Doveman).
Why the title Aquarelle? An aquarelle is a watercolor, but it also suggests lightness, color, liquid. The lyrics of the songs have a sunniness minus the glibness, the overall effect of which is what one might call a “feel good record.” Even its moments of darkness, such as the gloomy “Sunday” (“You shouldn’t have left on a Sunday/ cause Sunday is the loneliest day of all”) are suffused with a kind of a underlying hope – in this case the tacit suggestion that tomorrow is Monday and something new may come along.
Since winning the coveted “Song Of The Year” GRAMMY in 2003 (for Norah Jones’ cover of his song “Don’t Know Why”), many more artists have recorded Harris’ songs, including Smokey Robinson, Willie Nelson, Pat Metheny, Kandace Springs, and Petra Haden. Jesse has released 13 albums of material, and continues to host and promote other artists at various shows in Manhattan, frequently in his very own home.