On the heels of her sixth studio album – Harmony – released last November, Ryder is unquestionably riding right. The album received its certification-award from Music Canada, garnering a gold stamp of approval for selling 40,000 copies. To boot, Ryder’s lead single ‘Stompa’ climbed to No. 8 on the Canadian Hot 100, airing in Canada and the U.S., giving our cousins to the South more kosher Canadian tunes, other than the autotuned-laden Beiber mashups.
But what makes this dusky-throated troubadour most endearing to CanCon-starved listeners is, she has a dark past she’s not reticent about. Ryder recently opened up to The Globe and Mail about her debilitating spell with clinical depression. Ryder’s bouts of despondency began when she was supporting her 2008 album Is it O.K. in the United States. Upon return, Ryder took an emotional tailspin and after reaching rock bottom, she sang and wrote her way back up out of her self-described pit. In the Globe and Mail interview, she reveals, “This album was totally my medicine. The songs were conversations with myself, telling myself that I wasn’t the depression. I began to understand music in a way I hadn’t understood it before.”
Once the fog lifted, she penned more than 60 songs, most of them sacked by her manager, and traveled to Los Angeles to team up with Jerrod Bettis (who has also worked with Adele) to find her record-selling, full-bodied voice. And with musical maven Bettis, it was a fail-safe and surefooted move. As the cliché goes, the rest is history, and Harmony was born.
And history is what I hope Ryder makes. With her latest album, Ryder deviates from the acoustic guitar quagmire she found herself in with 2008’s Is it O.K. With the tutelage of producers Jerrod Bettis and Jon Levine, and mixer Joe Zook, Ryder is on her meteoric rise to diva fame.
The first notable track off of Harmony is ‘For You’. It’s akin to a James Bond opening sequence song. Accompanied by orchestral swells, Ryder’s voice eclipses the instrumental bells and whistles. She sounds cosmic and inimitable. Contrasting, “]’Heavy Love’ is reminiscent to Melissa Etheridge’s self-empowerment anthems and is also redolent of Etheridge’s sandpapery, angst-ridden vocals. To top it off, Ryder returns to her acoustic pedigree with ‘What I Wouldn’t Do’ with its touching lyrics (without being too schmaltzy) and its evocative, yell-sing performance that tips its hat off to KT Tunstall’s music methodology.
Triumphing over album missteps and spells of melancholy, Serena Ryder is riding right . . . right into Canada’s heart.
For more on Serena Ryder, visit serenaryder.com.