Canadian siren Serena Ryder’s album If Your Memory Serves You Well is certified gold and earned her the 2008 Juno Award (Canada’s Grammy) for Best New Artist but despite the thin border is only now making inroads into the American Market marked by a collection of US tour dates in small venues.
Her show Tuesday, February 10th at Hollywood’s beloved songwriter mecca Hotel Cafe provided all the substantiation one may require to understand how the diminutive small-town girl with the huge voice managed to take over the great white north so quickly.
Channeling something akin to Tina Turner soul with the inflection of Turin Brakes’ Olly Knights, Ryder weaves an amazing tapestry of nuance and soul far beyond her years. At first glance she would fare well on a tour with Brandi Carlile or John Cougar Mellencamp or The Boss but the first time I saw her play was back in Toronto at her favorite haunt The Dakota – a saloon strung up with more white Christmas lights than Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut – where she stepped up to sing and strum an impromptu Hank Williams cover of Jambalaya (On the Bayou) that tore the walls down, belying her pedigree.
The visual of her strutting in place in a short black dress and looking for all the world like a pixie doing the running man at the Hotel was totally incongruous with the sound produced when Ryder opened her mouth to sing with full bodied bravado that converted anyone within spitting distance into an instant die-hard.
Ryder’s latest album IS IT O.K., recorded in Los Angeles, will be released on Atlantic Records in the US late spring 2009. You heard it here kids, now go get your ramble on.