Monday, May 07, 2007

Serena Ryder and her roots

From the title of the album, If Your Memory Serves You Well, you can tell that Serena Ryder is taking a look back at the past. That in itself is not such a rare thing for a musician to do. Most will list a handful of artists that inspired them and helped them formulate their own sound when asked. What is rare in this case is that Serena is paying homage to them on her major label debut and some of the songs date back as far as 70 years! In the liner notes, Serena explains:
I've been singing songs seven times my age since I was seven years old. I am a songwriter, but that didn't happen by itself, it happened with the inspiration of great songs, amazing songs, songs that over and over withstand the test of time, these songs, Canadian songs... and a few written by yours truly (tucked at the end to give you a taste of what's coming next to me.)
Don't think that simply makes the album Serena's exercise in Karaoke. She's got a voice that's absolutely dynamite, fiery and full of soul and spunk, and she uses it to approach these songs from some widely different angles. In some she exudes a bluesy dimension, in others she gets a hint of a twang, goes gospel here and there, and at least one point (in Some of These Days, written by Shelton Brooks and recorded by such artists as Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday available below - Serena slows it down and adds a sultry edge compared to Louis' jumping version, although she does start the track with the fuzzy hiss and crackle sound reminiscent of the records Louis would have recorded on!) even displays a huskiness similar to the latest foul-mouthed vixen, Amy Winehouse (minus the expletives and with toned downed innuendo).

Some of the other songs Serena re-imagines include Leonard Cohen's Sisters of Mercy, Bob Dylan's This Wheel's On Fire, and Good Morning Starshine (from the 1967 musical Hair).

The album is rounded out with three of Serena's own songs, and while I won't denounce any of them as unworthy, there is a somewhat different feel to them than the first eleven tracks. I'm not sure if it's their structure or the lyrical development, they're just different...not better, not worse, again - just different. I've included one of them, Just Another Day, below (which includes a snippet of Serena at 7 singing Buddy Holly's That'll Be the Day at the end), as well as one from her first album, Unlikely Emergency, for you to compare.

Serena Ryder - Some of These Days : If Your Memory Serves You Well

Louis Armstrong - Some of These Days
: Hot Fives and Sevens

Serena Ryder - Just Another Day : If Your Memory Serves You Well

and another original from her first album...

Serena Ryder - Daydream : Unlikely Emergency

Visit Serena's website, her label EMI Canada, and become her friend on MySpace.


5/7 Living Room New York, NY
5/9 Mercury Lounge New York, NY
5/11 Tin Angel Philadelphia, PA
5/12 Star Hill Charlottesville, VA
5/13 Jammin’ Java Washington D.C.
5/15 Center for the Arts Univ Buffalo, NY
5/18-20 Non-Comm-vention Louisville, KY
5/22 The Mint Los Angeles, CA
5/23 Hotel Café Los Angeles, CA
(Opening for Xavier Rudd for all the following)
6/16 Bonnaroo Manchester, TN
6/17 Madison Theatre Cincinnati, OH
6/19 Park West Chicago, IL
6/20 First Avenue Minneapolis, MN
6/22 Gothic Theatre Denver, CO
6/25 El Rey Theatre Los Angeles, CA
6/26 House of Blues San Diego, CA
6/29 Roseland Theatre Portland, OR
6/30 The Showbox Seattle, WA

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