Oh Little Fire

Sarah Harmer

Sarah Harmer’s social activism (with PERL, Protecting Escarpment Rural Land) and her constant touring created a five-year void of new recorded music, but Oh Little Fire puts an end to that drought. But it also puts the Canadian artist’s long-time fans through the cup-half-empty, cup-half-full exercise. Which Harmer do you want? The one whose introspective songs articulate her folk and country roots (as on “New Loneliness,” “Washington” and “It Will Sail”), or the pop-like Harmer playing tunes reminiscent of her early career (see “Late Bloomer,” “One Match” and “The Thief”)? Rather than a coherent expression of five years worth of pent-up insight, Oh Little Fire lurches from one genre to another and never fully succeeds. With the exception of “Late Bloomer,” the pop offerings come across disjointed, simplistic and overproduced, masking her best asset—her voice. When reflecting on her travels, however (as on “Washington,” “Captive”), Harmer is at her best. Overall, one gets the feeling that she put the album out just because one seemed overdue.