On the scene since the earliest days of the new Millennium, Jesse Harris is in the mold of classic New York bohemian songwriters. And in true romantic fashion, he and long time collaborators Will Graefe (guitar) and Jeremy Gustin (drums) were playing a festival in Vilnius, Lithuania, when they hatched a plan to meet another musical associate, Ricardo Dias Gomes, to all record an album together in Lisbon.
The result is Aquarelle (which translates to “watercolor”), an album of songs that have a distinctly painterly quality, if ever that could be said of music.
Harris teased the album this July with the advance track “Out of Time.” But the latest single, the romantically titled “Where a Rose Falls,” is a genuine stunner, a wistfully melancholic ballad, which finds him poetically ruminating, “Where a rose falls fast than a tear / In the light of every desert morning / You’ll be gone so far away from here.”
The accompanying video, which BlackBook premieres here, was also recorded in Lisbon. It shows him strumming away on lonely but atmospheric beach, while the object of his desire tosses her hair nearby in a seemingly unconcerned fashion.
“We got very lucky with this video,” he recalls. “The fact is we had no concept and no plan. We were hoping for clear blue skies with incandescent sun and instead got dark clouds, rain and high winds. Before taking a break from only twenty minutes of shooting David filmed Mads’ hair in a heavy gust in slow motion. It so completely captured the feeling of the song that he made a rough cut of the video that afternoon.”
Aquarelle will be out this Friday, September 7; and Harris will be at Union Pool tonight for a special record release party. We also asked him to recount his favorite memories of Lisbon, which he does for us below.
Lisbon has a vibrant music scene with many Brazilian ex-pats. Ricardo Dias Gomes, who played bass and keyboards on Aquarelle, had recently moved from Rio, where we met originally, with his family. We recorded in the studio of Marcelo Camelo, one my of my favorite Brazilian singer/songwriters, who relocated with his wife, Mallu, also a great talent. My friend Pierre Aderne, from Rio as well, hosts an evening of performers, called Rua das Pretas, every Saturday in an old castle. While in Lisbon I made many new friends – filmmakers, actors, singers, winemakers. I look forward to seeing all of them again soon.
The city is tucked in from the coast and nearby are many beautiful beaches with clear blue – and cold! – waters. Since I only stayed for about a week, I only got to visit one, called Galapinhos. We drove down to it for the day and ate of a lunch of local fish with white wine at a restaurant right on the sand.
Alfama is the oldest part of the city and has an enchanted, dreamlike feeling to it. The cobblestone streets are narrow, winding, and steep, and often at night, when they’re lit by old lamps, you can hear Fado singers echoing up from a club or restaurant. Jeremy Gustin, Will Graefe and I stayed there in the apartment of Jeremy’s friend Sara. The three-story building dated back hundreds of years, with original windows and heavy wooden doors.