Jesse Harris & The Ferdinandos
The Secret Sun
Why must Jesse Harris spend most of his time writing songs for Norah Jones? Sure, it got him a Grammy Award and probably a ton of money, but his music is so much better when he’s in the spotlight. Jesse Harris and the Ferdinandos’ latest release The Secret Sun is an incredible album, worthy of all the publicity (and more) that Norah Jones is receiving. Don’t get me wrong, Norah Jones is definitely talented, but her songwriter is plenty talented enough to stand on his own as a musician.
The Secret Sun is a mix of acoustic rock, country and folk, tied together with a hint of emo. “Just a Photograph,” the album’s opening song, sets the pace for a sleepy summer-y album — perfect for those hot, lazy days. Harris’ voice is a cross between Bob Dylan, James Taylor and Tom Petty. His lyrics are sentimental and touching, but not depressing. In fact, The Secret Sun is actually rather uplifting.
“What Makes You,” featuring Ms. Jones herself, is a country-tinged ballad. I’ve never been a fan of country music, nor have I ever liked anything sounding remotely country, yet this song is one of my favorites on the album. There’s a sadness to it, displayed through the twangy guitar and light piano, contrasted by lyrics questioning self-worth: “What makes you think you’re so smart / What makes you think that you’re not part of this / Long ago you were fooled into thinking you were removed from this life.” “If You Won’t,” the shortest and perhaps best song on the album, is a classic folk ballad, laced with chimes, soothing background vocals and a guitar riff that has an almost orchestral feel to it. “If You Won’t” alone proves just how talented Jesse Harris is and why he deserves more recognition for his work.
The Secret Sun is not Come Away With Me part 2. It is an album which stands on its own, separate from Harris’ work with Jones. With this release, Jesse Harris has established himself not only as a songwriter but also as a competent performer.