Published Oct 10, 2019Montreal harpist Sarah Pagé has produced a strikingly wide-ranging solo debut that celebrates her instrument with a fresh relevance. She pushes the harp in completely unexpected directions, in the process delivering a five-part album that feels vitally important.
The album is effectively one continuous live performance. During its 40 minutes, we're presented with a range of sounds produced with harps, pedals and amplifiers. Pagé has produced a genuinely experimental release, in the sense that the work is challenging and full of surprises. Fans of traditional harp performances will be baffled by this.
Which is not to say that there's nothing here for purists. Pagé clearly has a deep respect for her instrument. The near-15-minute "Pleiades," which closes out the album, features an extended section in which she delivers a conventionally accomplished performance. Coming as it does at the end of an album dedicated primarily to challenging boundaries, it serves as a nice reminder of the harp's long history.
Before this release, Pagé was best known as a founding member of roots band the Barr Brothers, and has played with the late Lhasa, Leif Vollebekk, Patrick Watson, Jerusalem in My Heart, Nadah El Shazly and others. Given the quality of this first solo effort (and its raw ambition), we've only just begun to appreciate her artistry. (Backward)