Sarah Harmer is a breath of fresh air on the independent music scene, where one girl with guitar sounds only slightly different from the next. She's got a crystal clear alto with hints of Maria Muldaur and Emmylou Harris, but there's no mistaking that this unique voice is all her own.
Hailing from the farm country of Canada's southern Ontario, Harmer's music is a mix of folk, country and bluegrass.
What makes Harmer special is that she has a knack for taking the well-worn traditions of bluegrass and country, and turning them completely inside out. She writes music and lyrics that sound completely fresh, contemporary and new. Take I Am Aglow, for example. Here is a song about someone who is being deceived and clearly knows it. Rather than wallow in pain and suffering, the song's protagonist basks in the light of one who makes her feel "aglow":
Goin' Out" is an adult lullaby, filled with lovely, dreamy, complex thoughts and images. Harmer's expressive voice lulls us to sleep, and to visions of what the next day might bring. Her father, Alan Clement Harmer, adds just the right tone on harmony vocals. And Luther Wright adds a distinctive banjo to the mix.
Harmer's southern Ontario homeland is under threat of destruction from the industry that develops sources of sand, gravel and shale. She wrote Escarpment Blues and much of the material on I'm a Mountain to express her love of the land and her desire to protect it. The beautiful melody and the thoughtfully written lyrics elevate this tune far above the usual protest song. This one soars.
The delightful children's song, Salamandre, sung completely in French, finds a place here in its celebration of the small amphibian and its connection to the natural world.
Like opening a beautifully wrapped gift on Christmas Eve, Sarah Harmer's music brings magic and the thrill of finding something wonderful and new. I'm a Mountain is something special. Take a listen and enjoy.
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