All of Our Names
First Appeared at The Music Box, May 2004, Volume 11, #5
Written by John Metzger
The bad news about Sarah Harmerís latest effort All of Our Names is that it isnít nearly as strong as her debut You Were Here. The good news is that the Canadian singer-songwriter doesnít succumb altogether to the dreaded sophomore slump. Although she maintains a keen eye for observing the emotional experiences of life, love, and loss, Harmer steps back a bit from surrounding her words with the distinctive melodies that filled her initial foray. The albumís first single Almost, for example, is undercut by a decidedly generic chorus, and a similar fate befalls the subsequent Greeting Card Aisle, a tune that inevitably sounds closer to something from Sarah McLachlan than from the gal who crafted such gems as Around This Corner, Donít Get Your Back Up, and Weakened State. Elsewhere, Harmer moves even further away from her earlier rock-oriented aspirations in order to explore the sparser, more ambient atmospheres of somber, folk-driven pop. As a result, thereís a claustrophobic air of fatalistic sorrow that fills her material with an aching loneliness, and as the songs grow softer, Harmer seems to suffocate in her sadness. Granted, there are a handful of nuggets to be found within the morass of gloom. The bleak, post-9/11 centerpiece Dandelions in Bullet Holes is a slice of haunted perfection; the easy-going Silver Road is breezy and gentle; and the soaring Pendulums comes the closest, perhaps, to recapturing the magnificent textures of her debut. While the remainder of All of Our Names has its moments, however, it also is an unfortunate quagmire of quiet resignation that just isnít terribly compelling. Ĺ
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box