Sarah Harmer live at the Lakehead University Outpost. photo by JP Marion

Captivating Songstress

by Tiffany Jarva

The audience swayed on the dance floor, at the bar and in their seats during Sarah Harmer’s non-stop, almost two-hour set at The Outpost in January. Perhaps a little more road-weary than she was when she played at The Auditorium nearly five years ago to promote her country-roots inspired I’m a Mountain, the Canadian songstress continues to be captivating on stage with her melodious voice, effortless-seeming guitar playing, especially on “I Am Aglow”, and a relaxed, easygoing stage presence. Harmer moved easily between her lingering songs about heartbreak and loneliness –her solo performance of “Oleander” was beautiful. Her electric rock-inspired tunes like “Captive” and “One Match” off her catchy new pop-rock album Oh Little Fire were deliciously infectious. She treated the crowd to her breakthrough commercial hit “Basement Apartment,” and other early songs like “Hideout,” and “Uniform Grey.”
Passionate about saving the Niagara Escarpment from over-development, Harmer is the founder of PERL (Protecting Escarpment Rural Land), and it came as no surprise when she sang her acoustic hit “Escarpment Blues.”
At the end of the night, Harmer slipped into the shoes of iconic songstress Stevie Nicks covering Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” with the opening act Gentleman Reg (who also did a splendid cover of Sheryl Crow’s “If it Makes You Happy” earlier in the evening). Harmer sang Nicks’ words, “thunder only happens when it’s raining,” and the audience swayed on the dance floor, at the bar and in their seats until there was no more.