June 25, 2010

Sarah Harmer, Grad Club, Kingston, 25 June 2008

Posted in bootleg, mp3 at 1:07 pm by rgsc

photo from Wolfe Island Music Fest, 8 Aug. 2009

Hello friends,

The wonderful Sarah Harmer, who should be no stranger to long time B(oot)log readers, released her first album in 5 years this past Tuesday. You might say, “hey! what took you so long?” but those questions will evaporate upon your first listen of Oh Little Fire. While I had heard two of the songs which appear on the record in 2008, the rest were a surprise.

On this album Harmer goes pack to her radio-friendly pop of “You Were Here” and “All of Our Names” – the rootsyness of “I’m A Mountain” appearing only on one track – and proves once again that she is a masterful songsmith. I tend to feel that the production on YWH & OoON was a little too glossy at times (I tend to prefer to listen to Harmer live for this reason) and I am happy to hear that, with only one or two exceptions, the extremely crisp production does not detract from the earthiness of the songs. Harmer is accompanied by some serious talent (how serious is this talent, you ask? Neko Case joins in on “Silverado” which, as you might expect, sounds amazing ) and the sound of the new record is finely honed without feeling overwrought.

Harmer’s strong, lilting voice shines throughout the record. Dealing with relationships and rooted in a strong sense of place, thoughtful lyrics that are variously playful and introspective, are directly conveyed. The upbeat, pop moments are filled with catchy hooks and memorable refrains. In the quieter songs, you are drawn in by the richness of Harmer’s voice and, this time out, the lyrical content isn’t as disheartened as was often heard in past recordings. There is a hopefulness and even outright joy to be found in this album.

This is a rich, full record and the wait for it has paid off.

Harmer is touring the new record in the US, England, Ireland, Scotland, & Canada, hitting up some of the bigger festivals. No local date yet but I have a feeling there will be a homecoming show before too long. If she is playing in your neighbourhood, I highly recommend seeing her live. I have seen Harmer play probably a dozen times and can say without any reservations that you will be in for a treat. Full dates at her site/space.

6/25 Pittsburgh, PA – WYEP Summer Music Festival (Schenley Plaza)
6/26 Philadelphia, Pa – World Cafe Live
6/27 Alexandria, VA – The Birchmere
7/1 London, UK – Trafalgar Square Canada Day Show
7/2 London, UK – The Borderline
7/4 Belfast – Auntie Annie’s
7/5 Dublin, Ireland – Academy 2
7/6 Glasgow, UK – King Tut’s
7/10 Newburyport, MA – Waterfront Park
7/11 Winnipeg, MB – Winnipeg Folk Festival
7/13 Ottawa, ON – Ottawa Bluesfest
7/14 Chicago, IL – Schubas
7/15 Detroit, MI – The Magic Bag
7/17 Vancouver, BC – Vancouver Folk Festival
7/24 Guelph, ON – Hillside Festival
7/31 Montreal, PQ – Osheaga Music Fest
8/6 Regina, SK – Regina Folk Festival
8/10 Banff, AB – Eric Harvie Theatre, Banff Centre
8/18 Woody Point, NL – Writers at Woody Point (Gros Morne National Park)
8/21 Owen Sound, ON – Summerfolk
8/22 Huntsville, ON – Algonquin Theatre
8/23 Parry Sound, ON – Stockey Centre
10/8 Austin, TX – Austin City Limits Music Festival

Exactly, two years ago Sarah Harmer and friends performed a benefit for Lake Ontario Waterkeeper.  I was in attendance to learn about the potential impact of the wind turbines on Wolfe Island (now built) and hear some great music, including the freshly written “One Match”. The first track was taken from the radio stream of Living at the Barricades (click for the full podcast) broadcast on CFRC on 2 July 2008. The rest were from the after-broadcast show which I recorded.

Sarah Harmer, Living at the Barricades: Alternative Wind Energy Show, Grad Club, Kingston, 25 June 2008

1) Through Your Hands (John Hiatt cover, with Jason Euringer)
2) Dandelions In Bullet Holes
3) Escarpment Blues
4) I’m A Mountain
5) One Match
6) Will He Be Waiting for Me?

Bonus (from Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, 19 June 2008, full set here)
* Late Bloomer

Buy “Oh Little Fire” on CD & LP, as well as oldies but goodies here (note: itunes is selling the album with 3 bonus tracks. These tracks can be purchased individually so the completists out there will want to grab them no matter what format you choose).

1 Comment »

  1. LD said,

    Many thanks again for Sarah Harmer live tracks. Wonderful.

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