Sarah Harmer: Around This Corner
Sarah Harmer: Just A Closer Walk With Thee
The classical reeded woodwinds of the standard orchestra - clarinets, oboes, bassoons - make an occasional appearance in the middle of more than a handful of acoustic pop songs, joining in for the third verse or the bridge, then sticking around for the remainder of the piece.
And though it pops its head in for emphasis subtly throughout the first verse, so it seems to be with the clarinet in Around This Corner, a catchy, bouncy piece of folkpop that led off Sarah Harmer's first major solo disk after years heading Canadian cult alt-band Weeping Tile. It makes a difference to the sound, to be sure, but it keeps surprising you. And the way it fades back into the music is so subtle, you forget it was there all along, until it comes back to bridge the gap between chorus and verse so sweetly, like a Woody Allen solo.
Harmer took the same tactic in Songs For Clem, her self-produced, never-intended-to-be-released gift to her father recorded the year beforehand, but only truly distributed after the runaway success of You Were There. It's rough cut, with rain on the roof coming in as a hiss on the track towards the end, but the clarinet lends a second line feel to the gospel harmonies, floating the old hymn somewhere heavenly.