Songwriter-guitarist Jesse Harris won the 2002 Grammy for Song of the Year for his song "Don't Know Why," the hit single from Norah Jones' best-selling debut Come Away with Me. It was a well-deserved award, but the song was already at least four years old by that point, having led off Harris' own 1999 debut album. Harris (also the lead guitarist in Jones' band) doesn't sing the tune as well as Jones does, unsurprisingly, but his voice (oddly reminiscent of the young Jackson Browne) is pleasant, and the ultra-spare arrangement, mostly just Harris' voice and electric guitar throughout, is an intriguing recasting of the song for those familiar with Jones' more ornate, piano-based version. Unfortunately, "Don't Know Why" is clearly the highlight of Harris' songbook; songs like the gently loping "I Don't Want to Change Your Mind" and the vaguely jazzy "It's Alright to Fail" are pleasant coffeehouse folk, but nothing more. Jesse Harris and the Ferdinandos is a passable debut, but those who want to explore the rest of his catalog after being charmed by "Don't Know Why" might be vaguely disappointed.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason