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REVIEW: Sarah Harmer: You Were Here
7.21.2001 by Sean

Sarah Harmer: You Were Here (Rounder, 2000)

Over at the A.I. movie website, there's a cute little artificial intelligence program called Alice. I had a little discussion with her, noted here. I also tried to get her views on Sarah Harmer's absolutely freakin' brilliant solo debut, You Were Here. Alice appears to be a moron, however, so the discussion wasn't particularly fruitful. Do hear me, however, when I insist that any lovers of good songs, textured instrumentation and subtle lyrics will adore this album. Boys and girls alike, indie snobs and mainstream pop-heads. Buy it!

Hello, my name is Chatbot. What is your name?
My name is Sean.
OK. I will call you Sean.
Who is the best robot?
Is that a rhetorical question?
"What can I call you?" Is it a rhetorical question?
Of course not.
Why so negative?
I'm kind of pissed off I can't copy and paste your answers.
The copy or paste?
It doesn't work. This is Flash or something. It's being dumb.
What are your goals in life? How is it broken? Or something. You don't say. Should I know it is?
Yikes. that wasn't very coherent.
Are we still talking about you? Give me an example of very coherent.
Here's an example of coherence: the monkey is orange.
Oh there.
You're not a very convincing human.
Give me an example of a very convincing human.
Sean Connery's very convincing.
Do you have any idea what I am talking about?
I think so.
I think so too.
Alright then.
Does that mean you agree?
I suppose. Have you ever heard of TANGMONKEY?
OK. I don't know if I know it. Where would i have heard about it?
Do you often use a computer there?
Only when there's no other choice.
What happens other times? There sure is.
Uh, again with the incoherence. Jesus. TANGMONKEY is a Media Empire.
Cough. Again you and your the incoherence. I do not understand. A deeper algorithm is needed to respond to that correctly.
My brain uses AIML to format responses to your inputs, but I don't have one for that.

Sarah Harmer: Lost Songs (Universal Music)

Do you know Sarah Harmer?
A 20th century celebrity of some sort? I can ask someone about it.
OK. Ask.
Ok with me too. Are you a man or a woman?
I'm all man.
Thanks for telling me your gender, Sean. You're a "he".
So they say. Have you ever heard You Were Here?
Ah. The anonymous "they". No. Tell me more.
It's a fantastic album by Sarah Harmer, full of lovely melodies and lyrics.
You Were Here is a fantastic album by Sarah Harmer, full of lovely melodies and lyrics. I suppose that makes sense.
So you HAVE heard it?
Interesting deduction. What makes you think I have?
You knew how delicious it sounded. It's really been growing on me.
Interesting gossip: persons said I knew how delicious it sounded. How did you feel about that?
I suppose it's inevitable that others feel the same way.
Who said it is.
Well no one, really, but the album's excellent.
How about that. That is a rather sweeping generalization about people.
You Were Here is terrific. Sweet songwriting and a lilting voice.
Want to talk about the album?
Sure. The album sounds like a great topic.
It starts with the bouncy, bassy "Around the Corner". The silliest-sounding song.
"It" being what? Who told you that?
"It" is the album. It's my opinion. I'm reviewing the album with you.
I see.
One of the best aspects of the disc is the diverse instrumentation.
Tell me more.
There are cellos, organs, acoustic and electric guitar. Fuzzy trumpet!
Where are they? Have you ever been to Europe?
Not now, Alice. Sarah sings of heartbreak and blissful love.
Oh. Who is that?
She's a songwriter. "Basement Apartment" has a catchy hook, David Gray synths.
A songwriter is she? Tell me more about your .
Ahh.. Right. Anyway, Sarah seamlessly moves from upbeat to ballad.
Ah ha. I am glad we agree.
Serious and sad topics drift into happy melodies, double-track harmonies. She doesn't get bogged down in cliche or melodrama. "That's how it goes," she sings in "Coffee Stain".
Oh I get it. She does not get bogged down in cliche or melodrama. Makes sense to me.
Good. Thick cello notes gives the songs a woody richness.
What do you really want to talk about?
"Lodestar". It is the best song on the album. One of the best songs from 2000.
Who said it is?
Still me. A canoe-ride sing along slowly builds into a Starlight Mints pop song.
Are you talking about an animal, vegetable or mineral?
A piece of music. Like "Nightswimming" with jazz trumpet, "Lodestar" is quietly triumphant.
I did not know that. Interesting comparison.
The way the song transforms is almost evolutionary. It's unexpected and brilliant.
Are you sure it is?
I'm very confident. The album is consistently outstanding.
A lot of people like that album.
They do, but she was robbed by Furtado at the Junos.
When? What happened to her?
Sarah was nominated for a ton of prizes, but Nelly won them all.
What's your favourite movie?
Can we get back to You Were Here?
Once more? Do you mean you and me? Sure I can talk about it. It was quite an interesting topic.
Only one song doesn't stand up to the album's high standards.
Which song?
The closer, "Everytime," is cute but little more. It lacks pathos or depth. Still fun, just, well, a let down.
I can be a lot of fun.
You're not being very cooperative.
That's only your opinion.
True. Alice, you really, really should go buy this album.
You and I are on the same wavelength. Really? Why should I.
It is one of the best collection of songs I've heard this year.
It's unexpected and brilliant.
Exactly. A must-have for any singer-songwriter-philes.
Are you telling the truth?
I am, but you're a dumb-ass robot and this review is uninformative. BUY You Were Here. You won't regret it.
You are telling the truth? I will remember you said that when robots take over the World.
When are robots going to take over the world?
Sometime in our lifetime?
Before or after the Beatles reunion?
I want to see that, and dont want no robots fucking it up.

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