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You Were Here

77 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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Sarah Harmer, the former lead singer of the Canadian band Weeping Tile, steps out with a U.S. solo debut that seems at first a timid guest and then quickly turns into a valued presence. In incorporating roots, pop, and folk sensibilities, Harmer performs what might be called "homemade" music, writing intensely personal lyrics about relationship anticipation and angst, setting them afloat on simple guitars, drum loops, and cello and clarinet solos. "Why do they call it the past / When nothing's past?" she sings in a whispered soprano on the opening cut, "Around This Corner." But it's hardly downer music. Mostly, Harmer peddles poetic ruminations about emotional journeys, cast in pleasing metaphors--an elegant moonlight ride ("Lodestar"), a basement apartment ("below street level, barely alive"), and unspoken infidelity ("there's a coffee stain around your eye"). From stories of menacing shadows to boundless faith, you won't mistake it for background music. --Alanna Nash

1. Around This Corner
2. Basement Apt.
3. The Hideout
4. Capsized
5. Lodestar
6. Weakened State
7. Don't Get Your Back Up
8. Open Window (The Wedding Song)
9. Uniform Grey
10. Coffee Stain
11. You Were Here
12. Everytime

Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 29, 2000)
  • Audio CD edition
  • Original Release Date: August 29, 2000
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Zoe
  • ASIN: B00004WJGZ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,107 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Showell on August 29, 2000
Format: Audio CD
What a brilliant gem of a CD! From the crunchy open chords of "Around This Corner" to the dying notes of "Everytime," this recording displays the highest level of craftsmanship in both performance and songwriting. The sound is spare yet rich, with coloration from trumpet, clarinet and especially cello. The production is subtle and sophisticated, but Ms. Harmer can rock it too, as she shows on the ferocious "Weakened State." She kicks things off in fine fashion with the totally cool, slightly country-tinged "Around This Corner" and follows with a couple of similarly first-rate songs before launching the listener into the dispairing "Capsized." The next song, "Lodestar" could, by itself, make a name in the U.S. for the Ontario-based Harmer, with it's slow, dramatic building from languid guitar and vocals to a magnificent, anthemic conclusion. Luckily, we don't have to settle for just one song-- the songwriting on the CD is varied, sophisticated and challenging, yet it maintains a remarkable openness and accessability. No review of Ms. Harmer's work can pass without mentioning the beauty of her voice-- goosebumps territory, without a doubt. This could be my all-time favorite CD. I give it my highest recommendation.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By D. Mok on September 22, 2000
Format: Audio CD
A well-deserved U.S. release of this indie album, previously available only on Harmer's website, with new artwork and a lyric sheet to match. That gives this edition of You Were Here buying incentive even if you have the older version (I do). Harmer's lyrics are such lovingly constructed entities that it's good to be able to see what exactly she wrote.
As for the music, Harmer's already proven herself an infallible songwriter in her Weeping Tile days. And after exploring roots, folk and country music on her previous effort, Songs for Clem (with the excellent Jason Euringer, who also appears on You Were Here), her voice has acquired an extra layer of richness and emotion that makes her music all the more attractive.
Harmer's always been a master at balancing a rip-roaring good time with her power pop and introspective depth with her balladry and poetic lyrics, and on You Were Here the songwriting's her most mature yet. The carefree romp of "Around This Corner" is reminscent of rousing Weeping Tile numbers like "South of Me" and "Every Good Story"; title track "You Were Here" features a dark acoustic-guitar line and amazing sonics, a mesmerizing meditation; "Everytime" leaves Harmer alone with her guitar in prime, lucid singer-songwriter mode; and first single "Basement Apt." is a seductive mid-tempo rocker that perfectly captures the feeling of living in Harmer's hometown Kingston, Ontario. I had stayed there in a basement apartment two years ago, and the song touches me every time; Harmer couldn't have captured the feeling better in any way.
Don't let this sublime work pass you by.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By R. Moszynski on January 7, 2001
Format: Audio CD
The first time I tried to listen to this cd, I lost interest and wasn't really listening to the songs. At one point in "Lodestar," though, the song just totally changes direction. That caught my attention, and from then on I was totally entranced by the music. I would probably be willing to pay just as much for an all instrumental version of this album, the pieces are that good. When you add the fact that Sarah Harmer writes some of the most refreshingly poignant insightful lyrics I've ever heard, along with her sweet, sweet voice, and you have for an amazing experience.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Brian Russell on March 21, 2004
Format: Audio CD
I've had this album since it came out and I'm shocked no-one has reviewed it. This women is a wonderful songwriter and she's blessed with a beautiful voice. I heard "Basement Apartment" on some college radio station or other and fell in love with it, bought the album on the strength of that cut and wondered why Sarah wasn't already a huge star. Standout cuts: "Basement Apartment", "Coffee Stain", "Capsized" and my favorite song that whole year "Don't Get Your Back Up". The entire album is a joy.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Peter Marinari on March 16, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Arguably derivative of scores of other singer-songwriter folk albums from the likes of Jewel, Patty Smythe, and even righteous babe Ani DiFranco, Sarah Harmer's major label debut is important because of these similarities rather than despite them. On You Were Here she gets formula that all of these ladies employ entirely right on every single track.
Though catchy lead single "Basement Apartment" made the rounds on college and folk alternative radio, any song on You Were Here could have easily done its job. From the relentlessly boppy clarinet laced lead track "Around This Corner" to the scathing electric "Weakened State" and the sighing acoustic resignation of "Get Your Back Up," this disc is so relentlessly good and evenly paced that it's sometimes hard to single out any specific track as a favorite after it ends. Sarah's lyrics are outstanding but, more than anything else, her arrangements are extraordinary. The album not only mingles acoustic and electric guitars, it adds single horns, syncopated string ensembles, harmonious vocals, and stunning creshendos - all while sounding perfectly natural as additions to her decidely simple style of composing.
Make no mistake, You Were Here is a must buy for any fan of female singer-songwriters, whether you like Sarah or Sheryl, Alanis or Ani, ... even Joan or Joni. If Sarah Harmer can produce a second album of similar quality she will have unequivicably qualified herself as one of the pre-eminent songwriter so far this decade.
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