Album Review: You Were Here by Sarah Harmer

Album Name: You Were Here
Artist: Sarah Harmer
Year/Label: 2000 / Uni/ Zoe

[Buy at Amazon]

Review by Amy Lotsberg Producer of Collected Sounds

Just a note:

When Sarah Harmer first released her CD “You Were Here” in Canada, it had the cover on the left. When it was released in the States, it was given the cover on the right. In both CDs the music is the same, just the covers are different.

Review by Amy- Producer of Collected Sounds

After hearing some folks on both the Sarah Slean mailing list and Ecto raving about Sarah Harmer, I went to her web site and downloaded her song “The Hideout” and fell in love with it. I couldn’t stop listening to it. I ordered the CD on line and learned that the rest of the CD is as good or better than “The Hideout”. This is a wonderful CD.

Sarah’s music is a little bit country rock, a little bit folk, and totally addicting. She has a wonderful voice and writes beautiful songs.

Review by Morgan Smith
I have to say, that this is, the first time in YEARS I have truly been taken by an artist so violently. After hearing one of my friends rattle on and ON about how fantastic she is, and how fantastic her band, Weeping Tile is, I finally downloaded some MP3’s and MY GOD! What an amazing singer!!! I now own two Weeping Tile CD’s (“Cold Snap”, and “Eepee”) which are both fantastic and also feature her beautiful songwriting.

I have also mail ordered “You Were Here” directly from Cold Snap Music. This is now on my coveted Favourite CD rack in my room directly above my stereo, as it is played so often, I want to keep it in easy reach.

After hearing her intensely heartening lyrics, coupled with her blend of (I hate to sound cliched, but she is THIS GOOD…) “funkified” folk and rock, I can’t get enough!

Now I regret not attending her concert the last time she was here. To hear her intimate songs like “Coffee Stain”, and “Open Window” in a small venue like the ones she performs in now (And believe me when I tell you that she won’t be there for long) would be an incredible experience to say the least. My friend agrees. Of course he actually GOT to go. Bastard.

Anyway, to sum up, Sarah Harmer is now one of my favourite performers, along with others such as Sarah Slean, Ani Difranco, Tori Amos and, of course, Weeping Tile.

Go out and get some Harmer!!!

Posted on August 1, 2000

Track Listing
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
9. Uniform Grey
10. Coffe Stain
11. You Were Here
12. Everytime

[Sarah Harmer Official Site]


Album Review: Faith & Courage by Sinead O’Conner

Album Name: Faith & Courage
Artist: Sinead O’Conner
Year/Label: 2000 / WEA/ Altantic

[Buy at Amazon]

Review by Anne Deming

I admit to my undying admiration and respect for Sinead O’Connor, her musical talents and her flare for controversy; therefore, I was ANXIOUSLY awaiting the release of “Faith & Courage”.

After listening to “Faith” 4 times in less than 12 hours, I’ve come to the conclusion that Sinead has transcended any and all expectations. The 13 songs are extraordinarily fierce; her voice, so soft and haunting followed by screeches filled with rage, defies conventional music.

“Faith” blends a rainbow of emotions into a beautifully balanced work of art, one could even call it a sonic masterpiece. At times, the songs seem too slow for her powerful words, but the strength of the music carries the listener to a higher level of a appreciation and enjoyment. Surprisingly upbeat and pop-ish *cringe*, the album is cushioned with creativity.

I strongly urge everyone to run out and purchase “Faith” as soon as is humanly possible. A word of caution: listen to the entire CD before revisiting those catchy tracks (that would be 1-13 by the way) because each song is better than the one before…come to think of it, just put the damn thing on repeat and enjoy an evening of melodious bliss.

It’s hard to choose, but I have to say “Jealous” and “Hold Back The Night” are the show stoppers on the disc.

Review by Nanna denmarknanna loose

Rating: 5 Stars
I realy think that this record is the best she had made. its having this power and kindness thats makeing me shake!!!!!! numbers as Jelouse and hold back the night , can we realy haer what her voice can do!!!! i started grying the first time I heart them… that one out of millions of resons why is sould have 5 stars….

Posted on June 18, 2000

Track Listing
1. The Healing Room 2. No Man’s Woman
3. Jealous
4. Dancing Lessons
5. Daddy I’m Fine
6. ‘Til I Whisper U Something
7. Hold Back the Night
8. What Doesn’t Belong to Me
9. The State I’m In
10. The Lamb’s Book of Life
11. If U Ever
12. Emma’s Song
13. Kyrie Eleison
15. Full Circle

[Sinead O’Conner Official Site]

Album Review: Frightening Beauty by Xyra and Verborgen

Album Name: Frightening Beauty
Artist: Xyra and Verborgen
Year/Label: 2001 / Independent

Review by Anna Maria Stjärnell

It’s not often you come across a singer as impressive as Xyra Harper Cann.
On her bands second album she sings in the smoky voice of a true diva. She brings to mind the deep, exotic tones of Nico and Marlene Dietrich. Nico is an obvious influence, and Xyra sings a tribute to her called “When She Walks Into the Room”. It’s a dramatic and evocative song.
The music on this album has folky and cabaret touches throughout that fit together perfectly. At times the band reminds me of Roxy Music’s melancholy air and sophistication. They cover Roxy’s “While My Heart Is Still Beating” beautifully too.
The album ends with a jazzy reading of “My Funny Valentine”. This is a truly lovely and stunning record that deserves to be heard by many.

Posted on March 30, 2000

Track Listing
1. Frightening Beauty
2. Find me
3. Random Inquiry
4. Prisoners in a Free Society
5. While My Heart is Still Beating
6. Until I Find
7. Delicate Anger
8. Seeds of Dissension
9. You Forgot to Answer
10. When She Walks into the Room
11. Nibelungen
12. The Fool’s Journey
13. Minstrel of the Grail
12. Funny Valentine..

[Xyra Official Site]


Concert; Sarah Slean/Tori Cassis in Minneapolis

Artist: Sarah Slean

Date: February 15, 2000

Opening Act: Tori Cassis (yes, I know they played in reverse order)

Venue: Collected Sounds Living Room

City: Minneapolis, MN

Review by [Amy Lotsberg] Producer of Collected Sounds

I hosted my first Living Room Concert featuring Sarah Slean and Tory Cassis on Tuesday night February 15th. Background on performers:

Sarah Slean is a singer songwriter from Toronto, ON. She plays piano and sings like an angel.

Tory Cassis is a guitar player-singer-songwriter also from Toronto. He was nominated for a Juno Award for Best New Male Artist for 2000 and though he did not win, he deserved to!

The Show:

Well since this was my very first Living Room Concert I was a bit nervous but as soon as the band got there I was put at ease. They are all so very nice and easy-going.

The musicians consisted of: Sarah, Tory, Bass Player Derek Brady and Mark Mariash on the Drums.

They set up their “stage” in our dining room, which adjoins to the living room. Luckily we didn’t have a lot of furniture to move since we didn’t have much in our dining room! People started arriving and the band took a little break to get some dinner while we chit-chatted and in some cases, got to know each other. Most of the folks in the room I knew but some others had heard about the show from either the internet or were friends of friends so it was a mixed group. One person (Hi Travis!) drove 12 hours from Regina Saskatchewan to be there!

Sarah opened and from the first note she played she had us all in the palm of her hand. Some of her songs are very low-key and semi quiet and while she played these it was so still in the room you could hear a pin drop.

There were some folks there who were familiar with her music and she took requests as well as performing the songs she had planned to hear. I think one of the highlights was when the whole thing was over and almost everyone had left, one fan said to her, “I was really hoping you would play ‘Blue Parade’ tonight.” so she sat right back down at the piano and played it just for him (and the 4 or 5 others that were still there). It was such a treat! She is an amazing and captivating performer.

Tory Cassis performed next. No one in the room had even heard of him before this night. I think he felt a little strange about that since he is so well known in Canada but he treated us all like we were good friends. It’s hard to describe his style since it changes from song to song.

Sometimes he sounds like Bob Dylan (only with a much nicer and sexier voice), other times he rocked out and reminded us of the band Morphine (the voice not so much the music). He also sang a couple of “swingin” type songs where he sounded like Harry Connick, Jr or Ol’ Blue Eyes.

He was truly amazing. It doesn’t hurt that he is a very sweet guy (and not bad lookin’ either!)

My three dogs were a bit of a challenge. One of them, Murphy, is one of those dogs that has to be the center of attention. He didn’t like it so much that there were 20 people in the house that were paying attention to something other than him. So he remedied that by wandering through the set and barking at the audience. I think it was hard for Sarah & Tory not to laugh! But they were very cool about it and played along.

[Sarah Slean Official Site]

Concert: Tara MacLean in Minneapolis (2000)

Artist: Tara MacLean

Date: January 27th, 2000

Venue: Coffee Gallery

City: Minneapolis, MN

Review by [Amy Lotsberg] Producer of Collected Sounds

Well we wanted to make sure we go there in plenty of time. When I called earlier the guy on the phone had given her start time as “8 or 8:30”. So we got there around 7:30 (in case it was 8pm) and the place was packed! There was no place to sit and people were already standing. So we crunched to the back and stood sweating for an hour and a half until she came in the front door.

I said to my husband, Greg, “I bet she was across the street!” (in a bar called Oliver’s). I am still kicking myself for not going there before the show, because at one point when she messed up on something she remarked, “Oh, man, we should have left the bar earlier!”

She came in, took her coat of and got on stage. She was very loopy (I’ll just say it…tipsy) and silly. She started with “That’s Me” ad I thought we were going to see the same show as before, but she added some other songs unknown to me. (see set list at the end of the article)

The coffee shop is pretty small and built like a long hallway. The stage was at the front of this “hallway” set up in the front window of the shop. She said, “I feel like everyone is looking at my ass!” But they were making it steam up enough so that no one would have been able to see anything anyway.

Someone asked if she had any CDs for folks to buy and she said they were supposed to be FedExed here that night but got stuck in Tennessee because of the snowstorm.

The evening was very relaxed. She mentioned a few times that they hadn’t had a day off in months and they were “wingin’ it!” She asked for requests and the owner of the shop yelled out, “Inna Godda Da Vida”. When the laughter stopped Bill very quietly began playing the intro.

She mentioned that she sometimes plays covers when she’s on tour. She introduced one as a song written by a friend of hers who was very talented and funny and the song had done really well on the Canadian Charts.
The artist was Kim Stockwood and she called the song, “The Jerk Song”. (Amazon lists it as just being called “Jerk”)

She mentioned that it was on Kim’s CD called “Bona Vista”. She recommended everyone go out and get it.
Click here for information on ordering Kim Stockwood’s CD

Tara was, at once point speaking about Shania Twain and remarked, “She needs to do some sit ups, but otherwise…” which drew a huge “Oooooohhhhh!” from the crowd. I hope she was kidding!

Tara also mentioned that she was doing an interview for Playboy the next day “I’m not posing, don’t worry!”, she said.

Set list

That’s Me
If I Fall
Unloved (a Jann Arden song)
Unknown–the lyrics start out, This old house is falling down…

[Tara MacLean Official Site]

Concert: Mute Cute Girl in Toronto

Artist: Mute Cute Girl (Sarah Slean and Friends)

Date: January 27, 2001

Venue: Rivoli

City: Toronto, ON Canada

Review by by James McGarry

Sarah Slean was scheduled to perform at the Rivoli in Toronto, ON on Thursday January 27th. She unfortunately got laryngitis and was instructed not to sing at risk of doing permanent damage to her voice. But like a true performer, she didn’t want to disappoint her fans. She show must go on! So Sarah and her Manager, Heather, put together a wonderful show!

Here is a recap from one of her fans who attended the show.

I think we’re all still in awe, Heather, “I just made some phone calls, man”, managed a, there’s no other word, miracle. I just don’t know what to say, gushing words don’t even do it…

The band:

Sarah Slean: piano and dry erase board
Sjanie McInnes: backing vocals and Sarah’s “Voice”
Kurt Swinghammer: guitar magic
Drew Bersten: bass
Mark Mariash: percussion
Tory Cassis: trumpet

There’s no real describing it though. I must say when Ms. Pollack tells
you there is a “surprise” you will be _surprised_. This was a dream, it
had to be, kids, this did happen, right?

All I’m thinking is, “Anyone else woulda just canceled. No one, on
_this_ planet would’ve rounded up a pile of musical pals and made
magic.” I’m so giddy thinking about this 🙂 It, it… it was an amazing

Get well soon, Sarah!


Set list

(Thanks Tab!)

Me & Jerome by Jay Englishman
Before Your Time by Kurt Swinghammer
My Invitation by Sarah Harmer
Habit by Dave Matheson (Moxy Fruvous)
Bonnie’s Song by Coco Love Alcorn
High by Tory Cassis
Eliot by Oh Susanna & Leslie Fiest (Fiest/By Divine Right)
Weight by Moe Berg
Blue Parade by Sjanie McInnes

[Sarah Slean Official Site]