Sarah Harmer: New Low (Arts & Crafts): This is the first song to be made available from the award-winning Ontario singer-songwriter and environmentalist's new album, Are You Gone.
Due out on February 21 via Arts & Crafts, this is Harmer's first full body of work in ten years, so to term it 'anticipated' is a decided understatement. Her gorgeous voice and potent songwriting have indeed been missed.
In a label press release, Harmer says of New Low: “I was seeing many more people out protesting and standing vigil, beyond the usually dedicated Indigenous leaders and social justice activists. I met with Queen's University students who were organizing to push the university to divest from fossil fuel investments and then met with the principal of the university.
"When pressed, he dismissed the idea of divestment largely because he said it wouldn't make a difference to the fossil fuel industry, and also that sizeable donations and sponsorships made to the university by former students now at oil and gas companies created a 'grey area' of policy. The term stuck with me. Sometimes it's good to see the nuance of a situation, and sometimes the calls for nuance are just straight-up cop-outs. I hope this song gets people to their feet, and not only to dance.”
More up-tempo than much of her material, it features virile electric guitar, a lacing of brass, and forceful vocals, making for a rousing call to arms.
Expect a mix of the political and personal on the rest of the record, one the press release terms "a meditation on the idea of presence, and a bookend to the questions posed on You Were Here, Harmer's much-revered 2000 solo debut (TIME called it the best debut album of the year). One very welcome return to action.
To promote Are You Gone, Harmer will play her first tour in a decade. Following US dates, she starts an extensive Canadian tour in Peterborough on March 24, closing out in Vancouver on May 2. Dates here
Publicity: Ken Beattie, Killbeat