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You Were Here

You Were Here

4.8 13
by Sarah Harmer
It isn't easy to get people to pay attention to you when you're a singer-songwriter from Canada, and a woman to boot. But Sarah Harmer is no wispy Sarah McLachlan, and she's not angry and tormented like Alanis Morissette. She's sunny, she's wise, and she can write a folky, funny little pop song that


It isn't easy to get people to pay attention to you when you're a singer-songwriter from Canada, and a woman to boot. But Sarah Harmer is no wispy Sarah McLachlan, and she's not angry and tormented like Alanis Morissette. She's sunny, she's wise, and she can write a folky, funny little pop song that sounds a little like Nick Drake, a bit like the Innocence Mission, and mostly like nothing you've heard yet. Ontario-based Harmer, the former vocalist for Weeping Tile, makes her U.S. solo debut with a dozen songs about love affairs gone past tense. Despite her bittersweet subject matter, Harmer doesn't wallow. Her lyrics are full of careful observations, she sings in a lighthearted, regular-girl soprano, and her rootsy, eclectic arrangements (listen for cello, dobro, harmonica, and clarinet) make it clear that she leaves sad times behind, because brighter things are within her reach.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Lisa M. Smith
Sarah Harmer's first solo effort, You Were Here, doesn't allow a simple categorization of style or reveal a sweeping trend in progress. But it is certain that she is an artist choosing wisely from a great scope of colors. With a pleasing and misleading start, the rollicking opening track asserts its individuality with a Vaudevillian clarinet, keeping one foot in Kinks pop and one in some elusive species of country rock. The next track leaps into the present, utilizing rhythms that sound somewhat synthesized in the mode of David Gray. "The Hideout," having appeared also on a Starbucks coffeehouse compilation disc, has the feel of Neil Young circa Harvest, and becomes a powerful single with its heavy drum line, bold "fifths" chords, and strong chorus with a memorable hook. Moving on, the energy level quickly drops to a spare meditation, featuring vocal, guitar, subtle organ, and the dark psychology of the lyrics. This ebb and flow proves to be the experience throughout You Were Here. Songs may begin with a soft acoustic, then unfold assuredly toward their climax. Various instruments add character now and then, such as a muted trumpet or a harmonica, and the energy level can sway between a lullaby and full pop treatment with a definite destination. The music can also have a heavier edge, driven at times by a malcontent electric guitar. Throughout, the cello is a recurrent staple, as is Harmer's self-harmonized lead vocal. In conjunction with her sonorous, folky vibrato, the melodies are built of simplicity and sweetness, making it an easy album to latch onto. Produced by Harmer herself, along with Peter Prilesnik, You Were Here is keen to a number of musical influences. Her Canadian nationality notwithstanding, there is more than a whisper of Joni Mitchell or Ron Sexsmith in the music. Moments which might feel slow or meandering could likewise feel pensive, meditative, or gather interest from their potential to reveal something more. The lyrics are observational yet detached, and poetic without being arcane -- the album as a whole feels sincere, answering to a variety of moods and whims. It is a work of quality, from the songwriting clear to the production.

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Release Date:
Zoe Records


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You Were Here 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was at a in-store appearance by her today and was shocked by how good she was. I ended up listening to hear for 30 minutes and bought the CD on the spot. If you are a fan of Beth Orton or Liz Phair you will love Sarah Harmer as well. In fact I got a couple free tickets to her show tonight and am heading out the door right now.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album was a very nice suprise when listening to samples at a nearby B&N store. I bought it that day a couple months ago and can't stop listening. I'm a big fan of women's folk music and Sarah is now one of my new favorites. I can compare her a times to Indigo Girls and Joni Mitchell, yet she has her own distinct sound. Overall, it's a great album to relax to, or to give a little pick me up in the middle of my day, especially with the song, Basement Apartment. I can't say much more besides ''I love this album!''
Guest More than 1 year ago
My wife and I were introduced to Harmer when she opened for Barenaked Ladies in Milwaukee last summer. She possesses an enchanting voice with deep, introspective songwriting. A true, seemingly unknown gem outside of Canada. With all of the pop garbage being produced and shoved down our throats these days, Harmer is a true musical prize.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've known Sarah a little for a couple of years now, since a show in Ottawa. I soon bought Weeping Tile's second full-length cd, Valentino, which i got to like a whole lot. After the quiet album of cover tunes ''Songs for Clem'', this opus finds Sarah in full control of her act, even without Weeping Tile (although Luther Wright was involved...). Through five listenings, it grew and grew until, after ten or twelve, it was on highest rotation on my player. Perceptive writing, tuneful composing, simple and beautiful arrangements and a striking voice. A fabulous talent and a great cd. Benoît Côté
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a quiet, subtle album. The first time I listened to it, I was mildly interested. But I listened to it again. Harmer's delicate melodies began to charm me. I kept listening. Her voice is positively hypnotic. When I started listening closely to her lyrics, I was blown away. These lines are from Basement Apartment: ''I can smell the bleach they use in the hall / But it won't clean the dirt off me / It's seeping underneath the door / And across the floor / It's starting to hurt / Every time I breath / Every time I try to leave / Every time I breath.'' I think Sarah Harmer must be a person who feels very deeply. She certainly has a rare talent for expressing what she feels. I've rarely been as moved by an album. These songs have a way of going straight to your soul.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm a neurosurgeon in Toronto and first started listening to Sarah Harmer after reading an article about her in eye magazine (a Toronto weekly) and downloading You Were Here from Napster. It's been interesting to watch her popularity grow in the online community. I felt guilty about enjoying her music so much without buying her cd so I bought it last week. Recently every time I'm operating on someone at 3 AM, Basement Apartment is playing on the radio-it almost makes it worthwhile to come into the hospital in the middle of the night. It's a great cd to play while you're operating at night-calming but it keeps you awake. I hope her success continues
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album by Sarah Harmer is just brilliant. She is most defientely Canada's next huge export. The vocals and lyrics are so unique. The music is wonderfull. Mix it all together and it warms your soul, eases your mind and overwhelms you. A gem!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Being a Canadian stuck in the states I love to encounter Canadian music here. I first listened to Harman's CD when I saw the description of it as by a Canadian singer/songwriter. After listening to the first track I had to buy it, so I did. This is great background music, but it is just as wonderful when closely listening to the lyrics.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yes, I still call music albums,as they always will be to me. This is a must have album. I used to have a copy when it first came out but someone with sticky fingers "borrowed it" and I've been missing it ever since. There is a variety of music about the things that matter in life-love, loss, hope,relationships-good and bad. Perfect for a rainy afternoon
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have been a huge fan of the band Weeping Tile for years. I was so excited to see that Sarah Harmer has released a solo album and one of the best I've heard at that. For anyone who likes music that is written from the soul for you Sarah Harmer is the C.D. to buy. Her music appeals to everyone so go get her c.d.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The first time I heard her was on a public radio station, and I could not catch her name- I was like a woman possessed- my husband and I just loved her voice and music- Fortuneately with perseverence we found out- Love her music- soothing to the soul- like a tonic.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A friend of mine suggested I pick up the CD ''you were here''. Apparently Sarah sang at her sister's wedding and made a big splash. Well I really didn't have the highest expectations as I kinda thought my friend was being a little bit star-struck, and just wanted to brag that she knew someone sorta famous. Ok, blah, blah -- the music is amazing, the songwriting is excellent, and overall Sarah's CD really touched me. Buy it, Buy it now.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just purchased this CD - it is fantastic. Really enjoy the music and lyrics.