Wednesday, March 15, 2006

10 Provinces Special: Sarah Harmer

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.


Jo said...

I've been a Canadian expat for 19 years, & I'm returning home for good in 2 months. You have succeeded in making me feel even more homesick than I already am. Love the series!

Greg said...

I've been discovering a lot of great Canadian music lately, not that that's unusual: your 'exports" have enriched the N. American music scene my entire life. Thanks for Sarah; I first heard her a couple of years ago and have been a huge fan ever since.

cookies from elastic said...

I love Sarah Harmer. The whole "You Were Here" cd is great, and "Lodestar" is a highlight. The first half of the song is good, a fine song with a gentle folksy melody, pretty basic. But then the shift comes, and that's where it really gets me. The slow build of tension, the tonal colors change, the dynamics rise, it's wonderful.

Thanks for these!

supergurg said...

nice tunes