Robert Harris’ latest album, City Lights, makes you feel like there is no place that you would rather be than with your CD player listening to his songs. The album has a lover’s lounge vibe with music that accentuates the amorous mood and wafts an airy euphoric aroma. Produced by Harris, City Lights has music that will entice couples to snuggle and treat each other with kindness. The chord shifts are calmly strewn and the melodic vignettes move with a stealth-like elegance resembling the sensations that come over you while taking a sponge bath. According to Harris’ bio, he had the privilege of performing with Kirk Whalum and Warren Hill a few years ago on Warren Hill’s smooth jazz cruise. The experience must have made a lasting impression on Harris whose album City Lights is ideal for audiences on smooth jazz cruises.
As a guitarist, Robert Harris’ riffs are luxuriating and his keyboard tracks sail with the ease of a paraglide held up by the wind and steered by a savvy pilot. A few tracks are models of smooth jazz esplanades emblematic of music played during cocktail hour like "Monaco" and "Morning Light." The melodies swing with a pendulum that’s hooked up to ringlets of cool jazz beats and sound bytes that induce an atmosphere which allow the listener to unwind. The luxuriating guitar laps circulating around the title track are dreamy as Harris’ vocals harness the cruising ripples of "Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight" to embed a romantic imprint along the fluted passages.
The album moves into upbeat dance tracks with funky bass lines perforating "Steppin’ Out" and the swiveling motions of the saxophone taking center stage in "Straight Ahead." The slow rustle of the crescent waves along "You Make Me Feel Brand New" and "I Just Wanna Stop" are soothing as notes bud gracefully and soft tendrils sprout serendipitously. The delicate tones of "Sunny Side Up" have a floral scheme with a sensual flow that is made for lovers, and the final track "Katie’s Song" is a show of affection which Harris displays for his loyal pooch, a German Shepherd named Katie. He tells in the liner notes that she stayed with him in the studio throughout the entire recording of City Lights even when everyone else in his family retired to their own rooms. The song is a lovely ending to a lovely album.
Robert Harris’s latest offering City Lights is the follow up to his debut album Cool Breeze. City Lights is sheer delight for fans of smooth jazz. Joining Harris on the recording are Jimmy Seay on bass, Bruce Nardi on saxophone and flute, Michael Kahn on saxophone, and Steve Takahashi who assisted Harris with the drum programming. It’s an album that you are sure to hear on smooth jazz cruises and be able to enjoy at home as you let the music take over your sensibilities and bring you back to the lazy days of being on a cruise.