Hatchy is a mountain climber
Sun, 11 June 2006
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This album, being the fourth from Canadian singer/songwriter Sarah Harmer, is a folk music recording with a bluegrass sensibility. The distinct absence of percussion on this album gives way to sweetly tuned guitars, fiddles, harmonicas and other traditional instruments, all working together to craft some very 'old style' music. Utilising her melodious singing voice to good effect, the whole atmosphere created by this album is very chilled with a natural, earthy vibe. Sarah's lyrics on I'm a Mountain are deep and emotional, combining songs of love and longing with political and social commentary.
Despite this being a genre that has barely changed (if at all) in 100 years, there is a decent degree of variance employed in the structure of the music used in each song. Some tunes are fast paced, such as the album's title track, whereas others are slow and soft like I Am Aglow and Goin Out. Even though the album features a cover of Dolly Parton's 1972 song Will He Be Waiting For Me, the tracks never actually branch into what could be considered traditional country music, so if you're after some pedal-steel goodness you're not going to find it here. In fact Sarah offers us something completely different with Salamandre, a song sung entirely in French. The last song on the album, How Deep is the Valley is the album's best. This is a beautiful song, with a soulful harmonica complimenting a softly strummed guitar. Both the lyrics and vocals combine with this to create 5 minutes and 7 seconds of reflective bliss. Escarpment Blues is another good song for our troubled times.
What I really liked about this album is that it has the timeless appeal of bluegrass music without the hokey, redneck charm that accompanies many other interpretations of it. There is nothing in here that is going to make you cringe at some song about a busted down pick-up truck and an empty bottle of bourbon. Musically, in keeping it traditional, this album will not change or challenge the fundamental dynamics of the genre. What I did like it for was its quaint and honest simplicity. It's an album for those lazy, relaxing Sunday afternoons when you're in the mood to sit back and just enjoy something natural resonating in your ears.
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A good achievement without being outstanding, this is a worthy album to try out if you're new to this style of music.