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Jesse Harris

Although he's best known as the guy who wrote Norah Jones's breakthrough hit, "Don't Know Why," as well as four other songs on her Grammy-sweeping debut, Jesse Harris has got plenty to say on his own -- as evidenced by The Secret Sun, his fourth album with his Brooklyn-based band, the Ferdinandos, and his major-label debut. Here, Harris exudes an easygoing quality similar to Jones's, though it's more rooted in the folkier side of rock -- particularly in the guitar interplay between Harris and Tony Scherr -- than the cooler edge of jazz. The difference isn't so much one of volume but one of energy, with Harris cranking it up a little higher. Harris and Scherr's instrumental prowess drives the Brill Building pop of "How?" as well as the breezy "The Midnight Bell," which gets an extra bit of verve from a sinuous marimba line. Jones makes a cameo appearance on "What Makes You," where she and Harris perform a free-and-easy vocal duet, but she keeps things low-key. Harris does the same, for the most part, offering a nimble interpretation of the traditional blues tune "Roberta" and breathing a quiet desperation into the album's jazziest cut, "You, the Queen." He's already proven himself behind the scenes, but with The Secret Sun Jesse Harris establishes himself as a singer-songwriter to be reckoned with. David Sprague

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