As a multiple Juno award winner (New Artist of the Year in 2008, Adult Alternative Album of the Year in 2009, and Video of the Year in 2010), Serena Ryder is finally becoming a known and respected name. Her newest album, Harmony, is a promising contribution to Ryder's already eclectic portfolio.
The opening track “What I Wouldn't Do” is an upbeat, catchy pop single, destined for radio fame. A strong beat and crisp guitar, along with Ryder's always impressive vocals, make it impossible not to tap along. As much as I love this track though, an album comprised only of this type of music would be nothing to get excited about. Fortunately, Serena Ryder experiments with many styles in this release, and it is through this diversity that Harmony finds its true value.
For instance, “Baby Come Back” slides effortlessly between jazz sounds, full harmonies, and modern drum beats to create a truly unique, innovative sound. Another fantastically memorable track is “For You”, with its sultry vocals, staccato organ, stand-up bass, and orchestral backing calling back to much earlier styles, and giving the track a nostalgic flair without losing modern appeal.
Apart from a slight misstep on “Please Baby Please”, Ryder's new diva-esque sound is very successful. It's tempting to compare her to female vocalist icons like Adele, but the comparison doesn't really do Ryder justice; there is a lot in Harmony which is hers and hers alone.
Serena Ryder is a remarkably talented individual, and this album showcases her in a way that her previous work has not quite managed to do. I have no doubt that this will be a popular release, and it certainly bodes well for Ryder's future work. Check out the lead single “Stompa” below or stream the whole album over at CBC Music for the rest of the day.
– Aaron Swanbergson