When it comes to essential Canadian musicians, few rank higher in my books than Sarah Harmer. She has it all: a beautiful voice, excellent songs, and a demanding presence when she steps on stage.
Harmer first entered the spotlight with her band Weeping Tile. Despite some minor success, she went on to really make a name for herself as a solo artist, blending what she had learned from being in a rock band with folksy roots music. For example, Weakened State shows her at her most edgy, while Lodestar (both songs from You Were Here, 2000) comes in gently like a dreamy country lullaby. Even that song is deceptive though; around the 3 minute mark the song kind of picks you up and shakes you with a persistent build-up of drums, strings, and Sarah's voice.
The more recent Dandelions in Bullet Holes (from All of Our Names, 2004) and Oleander (from I Am A Mountain, 2006) provide a softer showcase of acoustic guitar and voice, although Harmer's country-upbringing is much more obvious on Oleander.
Finally, her collaboration with The Tragically Hip for Silver Road was featured on the soundtrack for Men With Brooms, a Canadian comedy about curling that turned into one of the most commercially successful films this country has produced in recent years. If you do watch it, look out for a cameo by The Tragically Hip as Team Kingston.
[mp3] Sarah Harmer - Weakened State
[mp3] Sarah Harmer - Lodestar
[mp3] Sarah Harmer - Dandelions in Bullet Holes
[mp3] Sarah Harmer - Oleander
[mp3] Sarah Harmer & The Tragically Hip - Silver Road
* Buy Sarah Harmer stuff from Maple Music.