Sarah Hallman Sarah Hallman

Sarah Hallman’s feisty debut disc is loaded with simple, confident melodies that take surprising turns. With a spirited harmony here or an unexpected chord progression there, the songs click nicely together one after another, building into an enjoyable and cohesive album. Several well-known Canadian musicians share credit for the instrumentation on the Ottawa singer-songwriter’s disc, most notably the Arcade Fire’s Jeremy Gara on drums and Wooden Stars’ Mike Feuerstack on lap steel. While the band, at times, come close to overpowering Hallman’s delicate vocals — particularly distracting is the persistent cymbal hiss that haunts several of the tracks — for the most part the deft instrumentation does a fine job of dressing up her uncommonly good songwriting. With tracks that strut out a ’90s rocker chick-style guitar jangle, as well as sleepily swaying country/folk numbers tinged with the atmospheric wail of accordion, stand-up bass and every variety of organ you can imagine, Hallman mixes up a satisfying blend of bouncy and blue. (Busted Flat)