First Play Live

First Play Live: Sarah Harmer, Are You Gone

Watch the singer-songwriter perform songs from her first album in 10 years.

Watch the singer-songwriter perform songs from her first album in 10 years

Sarah Harmer performs songs from Are You Gone at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. (A.J. Leitch)

2020 is a big year for Sarah Harmer fans: it marks the long-awaited release of Are You Gone,  Harmer's first record in a decade.

While taking time away from touring, Harmer was focused on slowing down, spending time with people she cares about, and supporting environmental causes — like opposing the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, or working against the spread of invasive tree species in the Carolinian forest.

Harmer's musical side didn't fully switch off, though. She would still pick up the guitar, and carry melodies with her for a long time. She also wrote a bit for others: a song for a documentary, and another for a Hockey Day in Canada event in Charlottetown. Harmer says her internal dialogue would periodically jolt her into asking herself, "What are you doing? Why aren't you doing this thing that you have worked on and love?"

Sarah Harmer with her band during soundcheck at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. (A.J. Leitch)

Eventually, in 2017, the voices urging her to record and perform grew too loud to be ignored. That's when Harmer cold-called producer Marcus Paquin — who's worked with Arcade Fire, the National, Stars, Raine Maida and Tim Baker — and began the process of recording.

Sonically and lyrically, Are You Gone feels like it picks up where Oh Little Fire left off in 2010, with lyrical stories about friendship, loss and the environment. 

Watch below (or get the full audio via CBC Listen) as Harmer and her band perform songs from Are You Gone in the idyllic setting of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, surrounded by the northern reaches of the Carolinian Forest in Kleinburg, Ont.

Sarah Harmer | New Low | CBC Music

2 years ago
2:37
Sarah Harmer performs 'New Low' for CBC Music at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Vaughan, ON. 2:37

Sarah Harmer | St. Peter's Bay | CBC Music

2 years ago
3:24
Sarah Harmer performs 'St. Peter's Bay' for CBC Music at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Vaughan, ON. 3:24

Sarah Harmer | Just Get Here | CBC Music

2 years ago
3:40
Sarah Harmer performs "Just Get Here" live at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Vaughan, ON. 3:40

Sarah Harmer | Take Me Out | CBC Music

2 years ago
2:23
Sarah Harmer performs "Take Me Out" live at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Vaughan, ON. 2:23

Sarah Harmer | Squeaking Voices | CBC Music

2 years ago
4:00
Sarah Harmer performs "Squeaking" live at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Vaughan, ON. 4:00

Sarah Harmer | What I Was To You | CBC Music

2 years ago
4:22
Sarah Harmer performs "What I Was To You" live at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Vaughan, ON. 4:22

Sarah Harmer | The Lookout | CBC Music

2 years ago
4:30
Sarah Harmer performs "The Lookout" live at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Vaughan, ON. 4:30

Sarah Harmer | Cowbirds | CBC Music

2 years ago
3:55
Sarah Harmer performs "Cowbirds" live at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Vaughan, ON. 3:55

Sarah Harmer | Little Frogs | CBC Music

2 years ago
2:42
Sarah Harmer performs "CBC Music" live at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Vaughan, ON. 2:42

Sarah Harmer | See Her Wave | CBC Music

2 years ago
3:07
Sarah Harmer performs "See Her Wave" live at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Vaughan, ON. 3:07

Sarah Harmer | Lodestar | CBC Music

2 years ago
5:28
Sarah Harmer performs 'Lodestar' for CBC Music at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Vaughan, ON. 5:28

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