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Oh Little Fire

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Image of album by Sarah Harmer


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The first sound you’ll hear on oh little fire is a high-pitched keening, like the shrieking of an unattended phone, or the distant skirling of a ghost on a winter night.

Suddenly, Sarah Harmer’s band kicks in, with drums propelling a gust of rock more forceful than anything she’s played since her mid-‘90s days with rambunctious Kingston rockers Weeping Tile. She ... Read more in Amazon's Sarah Harmer Store

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for 5 albums, photos, discussions, and more.

Frequently Bought Together

Oh Little Fire + I'm A Mountain
Price For Both: £30.69

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Product details

  • Audio CD (5 July 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rounder
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 237,973 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. The Thief (Album Version) 3:25£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Captive (Album Version) 2:33£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. New Loneliness (Album Version) 3:14£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. One Match (Album Version) 3:12£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Careless (Album Version) 3:54£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Washington (Album Version) 3:46£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Late Bloomer (Album Version) 4:09£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. The City (Album Version) 2:30£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. Silverado (Album Version) 2:41£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen10. The Marble In Your Eye (Album Version) 2:43£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen11. It Will Sail (Album Version) 1:58£0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Description

CD Description

This eleven track collection of originals is Harmer's first since 2006's lauded I'm a Mountain; she then spent several mostly away from music, advocating for environmental issues.

Harmer sings with a "beautiful, precise voice" (New York Times) on upbeat tracks such as "Captive," but employed a new approach for the album. "I specifically tried to get out of the pastoral, contemplative end of the spectrum and went for a more direct, aggressive style of songwriting," she says. The result is a lyrically forthright and musically immediate album, with vibrant sounds enveloping Harmer's trademark delicate, enthralling vocals.

Oh Little Fire was produced by Harmer and Gavin Brown, her drummer of ten years prior and producer for Metric. Recorded in Brown's studio, built into an old building in the east end of Toronto, Harmer put the album together piece by piece through the heat of summer and the cold of the Canadian winter. Some parts were recorded with visiting friends on Lake Ontario's Wolf Island and Neko Case's vocal contribution for the song "Silverado" was captured in a Rochester, NY hotel room. Metric's Jimmy Shaw provided guitar and vocals on additional songs.

BBC Review

A fixture of several underachieving Canadian bands since her late teens, Sarah Harmer rose to prominence in her native country with an album of standards originally recorded as a Christmas present for her father in the late 90s. Since then her solo career has flourished, a Polaris Prize nomination and countless back-up appearances for the likes of Neko Case, Great Lake Swimmers and The Weakerthans under her belt. This didn't stop her taking a few years to set up an organisation aimed at preserving the wilderness, making Oh Little Fire her first full-length in five years.

Certainly, it's a very comfortable record. Rich in supple, golden textures and carried by Harmer's sedative tones, a cursory listen reveals it to be very pleasant, if little else. This is partly because of Harmer's voice: rarely straining and effortlessly pretty, her very presence strips this album of high stakes or heady drama. But that's fine, because Oh Little Fire isn't really about high stakes or heady drama–its strengths lie in the utter breeziness of its melodies, and the telling little details they conceal.

See One Match for ample proof of this, where over a snappy, sunny chord pattern she offers lyrics like "If we only spoke with our minds / I would never look you in the eye" in a bittersweet tale of love, thwarted by her prospective partner's reluctance to let himself go. Her parting shot is "If I only had one match left / I would try to light the fire between us," and it's delivered with such sweet resignation that you could happily sing along to every word without realising that it is Actually Quite A Sad Song.

Elsewhere the pace rarely shifts from a relaxed shuffle, cobweb-clearing opener The Thief aside. But therein lies the appeal–penetrate its silky exterior (not a hard task) and you'll be privy to delights such as the slide guitar-tinged Silverado (a duet with Neko Case), the massive romantic streak present in songs like The Marble In Your Eye, and the paean to solitude that is Washington. Quietly, unassumingly lovely.

--James Skinner

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By P. Mayle on 15 Aug. 2012
Format: Audio CD
If an artist chooses to change musical direction then surely it's their artistic right ? it doesn't mean they've lost form, the fact that people cant handle it show's their own narrow mindedness! I have all of Sarah Harmer's albums, they are all brilliant in their own way this one is no different in that respect.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Adam K. on 8 Oct. 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
After her excellent solo debut, You Were Here, I felt there was a dramatic fall-off in inspiration and quality from Ms Harmer, so I approached this one with a little trepidation: sure, I wanted to like it, but I'd been so disappointed by the same-y All Of Our Names and even moreso by the insipid roots of I'm A Mountain that I feared getting burnt again.

Well, I did, but in a good way: Oh Little Fire is a definite, determined return to form from Sarah Harmer, full of the wit and energy you could expect and hope from her. Sure, it doesn't quite have the atmosphere of You Were Here, but it's miles head of her two previous outings in terms of fun and fire and is beautifully achieved with real heart and brio (not a word I use lightly. If at all). Bravo and thank you, Sarah: I look forward to whatever you've got lined up next. Please don't leave it so long!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By The Wolf TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 4 Sept. 2010
Format: Audio CD
Sarah Harmer is a Canadian singer/songwriter and 'Oh Little Fire'
is her fifth album and what a lovely album it is too!

Ms Harmer has one of those voices which takes you captive at
a first hearing if you sit back, relax and let it in. It's a voice
without frills or affectation. The simple quality of her writing
doesn't need fireworks and cannons. Her co-production with
Gavin Brown gets straight to the point and the point is good music.
A little bit folksy, a little bit country, a whole lot of fun.

There are eleven tracks on the recording, ten of them by Ms Harmer
and one, the captivating 'Silverado', by Trevor Henderson.

I particularly enjoyed opening track 'The Thief' which deploys
varying levels of light and shade to emotionally engaging effect.
'Captive', too, is a real treat. It's one of those songs which makes
you smile. Chuffing and chugging along at a sprightly pace
Ms Harmer, in fine voice, is very clearly enjoying herself too.
'The Marble In Your Eye' has really lovely lyrics; a charming
love song punctuated by delightfully eccentric harmonies.
On the quirky side of the road 'One Match' is a clear front-runner;
a whimsical invention which very nearly steals the show!

'Oh Little Fire' isn't going to set the world ablaze but it certainly
has the power to warm more than a few hearts in its own quiet way.

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