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Serena Ryder - Sweeping the Ashes Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 8
Musicianship 8.25
Lyrics 8.25
Production 9
Creativity 8
Lasting Value 8
Reviewer Tilt 8.75
Final Verdict: 83%
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Serena Ryder - Sweeping the Ashes

Reviewed by: Susan Frances (10/07/08)
Serena Ryder - Sweeping The Ashes EP
Record Label: Atlantic Records
Release Date: October 28, 2008

It’s hard to sound new in a world that feels like it has heard everything, but Canadian-born, singer-songwriter Serena Ryder isn’t interested in sounding different. She is simply someone who likes who she is, the choices she makes, and the voice that she was born with which she is able to shape into portraits of human emotions. Ryder’s forthcoming Atlantic Records release Sweeping The Ashes is a 3-track EP that shows, in a short period of time, the raspy timbres of her register, which brandishes a rustic tint liken to Carole King and KT Tunstall and a soulful resonance relatable to the bluesy crooner Lyle Lovett.

Ryder shares her views in a recent press release that “Everyone’s trying so hard to be their own island, their own original person.” But Ryder’s singing does sound like she is her own original person, and her husky brogue brims with an island identity that is all its own. What Ryder manages to do is connect with the masses in a way that makes them feel like she is cut from the same fabric as them. The folksy pop tendrils of the title track have a stripped-down beauty which reveals Ryder’s natural textures while gated by melodic esthetics that sweep the listener up into its gently rolling waves. The ramped-up acoustic strokes and soft rock tremors of “Little Bit of Red” lay down a sturdy platform for Ryder’s feisty outbursts when she digs in, “Your black and red needs a little bit of red.” Her sass-mouth is applause-worthy and her exuberance is infectious. The final track “Blown Like The Wind At Night” is blazed in mid-tempo bonfires with folk rock rumbles torching the wicks. She shows folk music not only has heart but executes a solid punch in its jab work.

As a Canadian singer, Serena Ryder is probably expected to sound like her predecessors Feist, Alanis Morissette or Celion Dion, but she really sounds like her own original person. Her slightly rough, husky textures give her vocals a rugged feel, while the suppleness of her movements and firmness in her voice coat the songs with a cool melodic sheen.

Recommended if you like: KT Tunstall, Ryan Adams, Nicole Atkins, Tina Dico, Astrid Williamson

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06:45 AM on 10/08/08
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Mark85's Avatar
This isn't bad. It isn't outstanding either. You hit the nail on the head when you describe her with words like 'rustic' and 'bluesy'. Its the kind of voice you could easily have on in the background while you are working. Sweet enough to the ear in passing but not something I could listen to simply for its own merit.
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