Over the last couple of years, Petra Haden has recreated movie soundtracks with her dazzling vocals.
On her 2013 album “Petra Goes To the Movies,” and more recently on jazz guitarist Bill Frisell’s similarly-themed “When You Wish Upon a Star,” Haden’s versatile voice could be heard singing melodies meant for a shrieking violin or an eerie theremin.
When it came time for her next project, Haden wanted to get back to actual words. “I missed singing songs that had a story,” she says.
While playing violin with jazz guitarist Anthony Wilson in Los Angeles, she found her ideal partner: singer/songwriter/guitarist Jesse Harris, best known for writing Norah Jones’ 2002 hit “Don’t Know Why.”
“When I listen to his songs I smile,” says the eclectic artist. “I’ve always wanted to have that ability to write beautiful songs like Jesse or Joni Mitchell. How do these geniuses do it?”
She got a first hand look when the two collaborated together in the new album “Seemed Like a Good Idea — Petra Haden Sings Jesse Harris.” Harris wrote seven new songs for the album along with lyrics to a John Zorn composition, while he and Haden wrote three songs together. In their earliest stages, those tunes seemed to echo Haden’s recent experiences with wordless vocals.
“I started by singing gibberish into my phone,” she explains with a chuckle. “Then he magically came up with great words to match my melodies.”
IF YOU GO
Petra Haden & Jesse Harris
April 1, 8 p.m., w/ Sean Watkins and Kalob Griffin
Boot & Saddle
1131 S. Broad St.