On 2004’s All of Our Names, this fetching Canadian songstress showcased the artier side of her songwriting, at times approaching a sort of acoustic-Portishead vibe that sounded refreshing amid the dozens of other talented ladies making records in that post–Norah Jones moment. I’m a Mountain is less distinctive than Names; rootsier and more mindful of country and bluegrass tradition, it’ll appeal to No Depression readers and NPR listeners but doesn’t make a lasting impression beyond the confines of Harmer’s suddenly crowded niche. Still, she’s got a knack for little flashes of peculiarity that remind you she’s capable of more than keeping alive someone else’s legacy. On “I’m a Mountain” she uses a throwback string-band arrangement to ask up-to-date questions like “How did they get that lady on TV laughing so naturally for a Wal-Mart ad?” And in “Goin’ Out . . . ” she offers a weary traveler “a bed made up upstairs,” over a lovely, banjo-flecked groove that’s as comforting as that bed.
Sarah Harmer + the Shiftless Ramblers | Paradise Rock Club, 967 Comm Ave, Boston | Feb 24 | 617.228.6000