I'm a Mountain
In the two years since singer/songwriter Sarah Harmer's last album, All of Our Names, she has become more deeply involved in environmental projects in her native Ontario, Canada. So, too, has she cast her musical net wider into her surroundings, with forays on her new album into country, bluegrass, and acoustic blues styles.
The album gets underway with "The Ring," a country-tinged folk song about feeling stronger with another person's support. "I got up in the ring/Because I had you there/In my corner," she sings over the bouncy interplay of acoustic and electric guitar parts.
In addition to "The Ring," "I am Aglow" and "I'm a Mountain" are quite rootsy originals inspired by country and bluegrass songs that Harmer feels sound more inspired by the sheer joy of playing rather than other less-pure motives.
"Escarpment Blues" is a song very close to Harmer's heart, a song about current land-use conflicts on the Niagara Escarpment, a critical piece of the southern Ontario ecosystem that Harmer feels very passionately about. But her concern over nature is not always at the macro level; "Oleander" is a lament directed at a houseplant. "Oleander, Oleander, will you bloom again this spring?" she asks. "I adored you/Then I ignored you."
Her songs have a directness that gives them immediacy. "Goin' Out" is a midtempo waltz written as a message of inspration and hope for an AIDS vigil Harmer attended. Over a gentle banjo, her chorus is ever-so-slightly anthemic with a hint of gospel to reflect a metaphysical theme.
In addition to Harmer's originals, she also effectively takes on Dolly Parton's "Will He Be Waiting For Me," and a song from her old Weeping Tile bandmate Luther Wright called "Luther's Got the Blues."
Harmer has always had a splendid voice, but she shows new depth as a singer with a children's song sung in French, "Salamadre." Singing in deeper tones than normal over a lilting mandolin, she sounds perfectly comfortable as a worldly chanteuse.
I'm a Mountain is another great showcase her her warm voice and deft touch with songwriting, and its pastoral delights are rich and inviting.