The Broadway Theatre

An Evening With Sarah Harmer

7:30 PM / Broadway Theatre

Are You Gone - the first album in a decade from Sarah Harmer – is a deeply personal and momentous collection of songs motivated by life’s beauty, love’s mysteries and the climate crisis. Two decades since her heralded debut “You Were Here”, Sarah returns with a deepened, electric exploration of nature and human nature.

The first single “New Low” is more than a return to music for the celebrated singer-songwriter and environmental activist. It is a definition of form, a call-for-uprising in light of the damage being done to our democracy and our living world. Inspired by the increase in community action after the Québec mosque shooting, the Women’s March, and climate rallies, Harmer calls out the “grey area” of personal and corporate responsibility and indifference, after meeting with the principal of Queens’ University to discuss fossil fuel divestment and receiving feeble excuses for inaction. Singing over its heedless pace and razor-sharp guitars: I wanna see if we can take this from flame to fire Heat is fleeting but hearts are beating hard.

From the opening frame of “St. Peter’s Bay,” Harmer conjures the essence of the album. An ‘end of the night, end of the love affair’ story set against a hockey game on the frozen bay off of Prince Edward Island, the song pits the hardness of winter against the fragility of the relationship. As guitar melodies and drums swell into a haunting and bittersweet refrain Still we had a good skate, didn’t we babe, “St. Peter’s Bay” makes instantly clear that this is Harmer’s most sonically detailed and darkest record to date, still crisply capturing the glint of outdoor ice in the northern night.

Are You Gone is also about stepping away – quieting one’s own voice for a matter of time, and using that force in different ways. If you’re too tucked away, and you can’t see the sun, Harmer muses on the breathtaking “Just Get Here,” imagining the Canadian poet Al Purdy’s A-frame cottage, a haven for writers in 1960’s rural Ontario. Like generations of poets before her, Harmer gleaned the magic of the place while visiting a writer-in-residence there in summer 2019. “I decided on the album title while staying for a night,” Harmer recalls, “thinking about time and time capsules, and our need for isolation but also for community.”

The result of an unshakable inclination to make music alongside a lifestyle more attuned to privacy and local activism, Sarah wrote Are You Gone gradually over the last decade as she traded music for grassroots organizing. Between co-founding the citizen’s organization PERL (Protecting Escarpment Rural Land) and leading the coalition’s successful efforts to stop a massive quarry on the Niagara Escarpment, she became a fixture in local politics and advocacy. She kept her musical chops up playing casually with friends and the odd small show. Finally, in 2017, while pondering the ghosts of loss, capitalism’s gluttony and music’s potential as a public platform, Sarah was moved to get to work on her most sophisticated record to date.


Find Tickets WEDNESDAY, APRIL 6, 2022

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