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A flash of telepathic closeness shared between friends, the euphoric memory of asummer’s day so perfect you want to live inside it forever, the dusty heat of a Texasafternoon, a tingle of melancholy on a solo walk home after a party: these are some ofthe ineffable moments captured in expressive detail by Georgia Harmer on her debutalbum Stay In Touch (April 15, Arts & Crafts). With a wisdom and poise that beliesher youthful age, Harmer has penned an emotionally resonant collection of songs thatarticulate the ways in which even the most fleeting experiences can forge bondsbetween strangers, create families out of friends, and one by one form the joys andsorrows that make up a life.Though Stay in Touch is her first album, Harmer has been making music practicallysince birth. She hails from an artistic family, including her aunt and labelmate SarahHarmer (Georgia’s parents, both professional musicians, met while playing in Sarah’sband). “I grew up having access to any and every instrument that I wanted. My dadwould give me these little guitars that he would tune to an open chord so I could juststrum and sing along,” she recalls. Harmer started recording her own songs at 10 and,while still a teenager, hit the road as a backing vocalist for Alessia Cara, touring andplaying every latenight TV program for eight months. But when it came time to make herown album, Harmer knew she needed to find her own people.
While the intimacy of her music evokes a solo folk artist strumming an acoustic guitaronstage, Harmer is a band person, playing in four different bands throughoutelementary school (she’s 22 so this is recent history!). After dropping out of university topursue music full-time, Harmer began jamming with jazz students at Humber College inToronto; it was there she met the musicians who would help her shape Stay in Touch.The final piece of the puzzle fell into place the night Jasper Smith, who engineered andco-produced Stay in Touch, caught Harmer performing and offered to help her make arecord.Harmer and her new band of jazz school misfits—guitarist Dylan Burchell,drummer Julian Psihogios, and bassist David Maclean—assembled to record atArtHaus in Dufferin Grove, a lively, tree-lined Toronto neighborhood full of youngfamilies. “It’s essentially a garage converted into a recording studio, and it’s meant foroverdubs and writing sessions, but we somehow managed to fit an entire band’s liverecording setup in there,” says Harmer. “It was nice because we could just play howwe’re used to playing, crammed in a room together, and capture the natural feeling ofthat.” Smith didn’t tell Harmer that he had never engineered a record before until after itwas complete.Despite their stripped-down recording process, there is nothing lo-fi about Stay inTouch. It spans everything from intimate folk and strummy country to sophisticated jazzand pop-kissed rock. Harmer and her band created musical landscapes that live up tothe lyrical richness of the songs. “The band completely understood the world the songsneeded to exist in,” says Harmer. The record sparkles with the lightning in a bottle feelof a band in thrall to their musical chemistry, adding more depth to the record’sthemes. Stay in Touch is inspired both by the relationships of Harmer’s past and the joyof finding your people in the here and now.For Harmer, music has always been a way “to process what was going on under thesurface of a moment, a way for me to understand in retrospect what something meant.”The tone is set with album opener “Talamanca,” a song that begins with a story about atrip to Mexico and expands to encompass the communion that can occur between closefriends—”Speaking without words/ Languages of seeing and being seen.” Thearrangement is built around Harmer’s evocative voice and bass harmonics contributedby Ben Whiteley (The Weather Station, Julia Jacklin) with reverb giving the song adream-like texture to reflect Harmer lyrically moving through her memories.A similar theme is explored on “Headrush,” a sunny pop song that captures thebittersweet sensation of being so happy you’re almost sad, a yearning to capture amoment in time like a beam of light refracting on a suncatcher. The dusty, grungy“Austin” recalls a day on tour with Cara in Texas, when a homesick Harmer feltparticularly connected to her father and his own experiences as a touring musician.Harmer’s father plays lead guitar on the track; they recorded his contribution in thefamily dining room.Harmer calls herself a sentimental person and Stay in Touch is full of romanticism—arare quality in an irony-soaked culture. The closest Harmer gets to irony is on “All In MyMind,” a song that looks back on a relationship where she was made to feel crazy.Transforming a “hard experience” into the record’s breeziest rock song “is sort of like alittle bit mocking, which to me is empowering,” says Harmer. “To be like, I'm rocking out!You’re able to sort of laugh at something, and to think, ‘Well that was dumb of you.’”Intelligence, vulnerability, sincerity, play—these are what make Stay in Touch anunforgettable statement from a new artist with a heartbreakingly simple message: whenyou stay in touch with the experiences that have shaped you, you stay in touch withyourself. For Harmer, this is a record about “staying in touch with the aspects ofyourself, your life, the world, that keep you aware of what's most important. Whetherthat's people, relationships, deep feelings, the value of togetherness and support. It’sabout finding the balance between holding on and letting go, between the beauty of theworld and the pain in the world.