February 23, 2006

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Sarah Harmer, I’m a Mountain
Cold Snap Records, 2006

Huh? What? What happened to jaded, doubtful, “Basement Apartment” Sarah Harmer? What’s with this chipper bluegrassy stuff?

Okay, so I’ve missed an album or two since her solo debut, You Were Here. Apparently she’s matured from a lonely girl into a folksy, friendly woman in her mid-thirties. She’s found happiness and fulfillment in roots music. How am I supposed to identify with that?

Whatever. I guess the tunes are good. “I Am Aglow” is particularly endearing, a happy dappy little love song, or infatuation song maybe. “I’m a Mountain,” the title track, is even more hyper, with blistering banjo and mandolin solos. She even manages to justify Dolly Parton’s existence a little bit, covering “Will He Be Waiting For Me” with sweetness and grace.

Then she gets into the granola with “Escarpment Blues.” Dig it, or something: “We’ll need to build some new apartments / And I know we’re gonna have to fix the roads / But if we blow a hole in the escarpment / The wild ones won’t have anywhere to go.” Oh noes, endangered field mice get exploded! That’s progress! That’s civilization! You want to live in a mud hut?

And what’s with the cardboard digipack packaging? No lyrics booklet, even? Yeah, environmental responsibility, blah blah, plastic uses petroleum, yak yak yak. This thing is gonna bend in my CD rack, guaranteed. It’s a good thing you’re Canadian, because that kind of behavior don’t fly down here in Jesusland, sister.

Yeah, Harmer is Canadian. Sings an entire song, “Salamandre,” in French. Might as well set Old Glory ablaze.

B, if you’re a terrorist-loving hippie
— John “jaQ” Andrews