Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sarah Harmer recently released her fifth studio album.  Oh Little Fire doesn't stray far from what we know, but that's a good thing.  I've been trying to write this review for some time now, but I find it difficult.  She's not splashy.  There's nothing, really, to grab hold of and sell.  She's not Katy Perry.  After years and years in the business, she'll still play a quiet little show at a tiny dive, or hop on stage and play guitar with one of her buddies, so perfectly down-to-earth.  Ultra-Canadian.  

So the real pleasure of her music is in the tiniest details: the subtle harmonies, a barely-audible accelerando or a thumpy bridge that seems ill-fitting at first, until you listen on headphones and realize the thump was there all along.

Harmer has perfected the two-and-a-half-minute city mouse/country mouse balancing act, her reverence for both worlds clear and beautiful.  A favourite track, "The City" bounces along, as much about the love she describes as the city itself.  It feels like one of those quintessential Toronto-songs, though I'm not sure it is.  But it conjures images of houses and streets and places I know so well.  It feels like those post-college years of wandering at night time, a little tipsy, through alleys and shortcuts in the Annex, maybe sharing a joint with a friend, free-wheeling and soaked in reminiscence.  "The city's got its stake in us," she sings, "it's keeping receipts of our hello's and our hi's."  

I can't think of much more than this to say, strangely, because each of her albums is the same: perfect and thoughtful and full of charm and heart.  Every year when I bake Christmas cookies, I tuck my iPod into my apron and hum along to every song she's ever recorded.  


  1. Geeze. I need to give her a listen. You have excellent taste.

  2. I agree with your comments. There is a way that her music blends into the day. There is a sense of peace and a bit of nostalgia that tugs at feelings.

    I have that same feeling reading your blog.

  3. Wow Anonymous, what a beautiful compliment. Thank you so much.

  4. I love Sarah as well. It is one of her older tunes, but Basement Apartment is still one of my favorites.

  5. You can describe music like the best of 'em...