Canadian singer/songwriter Sarah Harmer approaches the music on her third solo release, I'm a Mountain, from a more traditional standpoint, bringing in elements of bluegrass, country, and boogie-woogie to her already-established modern folk sound. The album was recorded in July 2005 in Toronto after a hiking trip on the Niagara Escarpment in ...
Canadian singer/songwriter Sarah Harmer approaches the music on her third solo release, I'm a Mountain, from a more traditional standpoint, bringing in elements of bluegrass, country, and boogie-woogie to her already-established modern folk sound. The album was recorded in July 2005 in Toronto after a hiking trip on the Niagara Escarpment in southern Ontario. Harmer grew up near the Escarpment, and when she heard about the threat of development there, she and her band decided to hike it to raise awareness over its plight. The song "Escarpment Blues" details this problem effectively, presenting the obvious attachment and love Harmer has for this region and her concern over its future (and using great internal rhymes like "we might get a load of stone for the road"), while staying away from eco-friendly clichés. The musicianship on the entire album is fantastic, especially the guitar, which ranges in style from Lynyrd Skynyrd-type riffs to bluegrass fingerpicking with a classical bent. Harmer's lyrics also show this versatility. Topically they deal with many of the same issues folksingers have always sung about, although of course Harmer adds a modern twist, wondering why the woman advertising for Wal-Mart is "laughing so unnaturally," in the title track, and addressing a victim of AIDS in the lovely "Goin' Out," on which her father adds backing vocals. Harmer occasionally falls victim to the folksinger's greatest vice, the overextended metaphor, but for the most part her lyrics are direct and personal without being too sentimental, and her melodies are tuneful and catchy but not too predictable. Her cover of Dolly Parton's "Will He Be Waiting for Me" retains the hopeful regret that the original has, and the children's "Salamandre," written by her friends Kate Fenner and Chris Brown, is stunning, highlighting Harmer's clear alto in a way not heard in her folkier songs. Because it is Harmer's voice that her fans want to listen to, and I'm a Mountain delivers that perfectly. ~ Marisa Brown, Rovi
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