Known for her powerful vocal range, Serena Ryder has logged some serious tour miles across Canada, the U.S., Australia and Europe.
And she’ll be stopping by for Roots and Blues in August.
Ryder has earned two Canadian gold records, three Juno Awards, a No. 1 holiday single for Calling To Say and been part of Bravo! TV’s Live at the Rehearsal Hall series.
On her late-2006 debut for EMI, If Your Memory Serves You Well, she covered some of Canada’s finest songwriters, including Leonard Cohen, as a way to learn from “these masters of story” and further develop her own songwriting skills.
Ironically, it was the plainspoken heartache of Ryder’s own, entirely self-penned Weak in the Knees that propelled the record, earning her a Gold Single award.
Her follow-up record, Is It OK, is at times palpably sad, vulnerable and even confused, but always strikingly real and in the moment.
“There is a greater good to be found in the darker moments of one’s life…there are lessons in the dark, more potent than any facades of happiness,” she says. “I’m frustrated at how greatly misinterpreted the word ‘happiness’ has become by pop culture…most of us spend our whole lives trying to achieve this horrifically impossible state. I’m feeling my way around in the dark to stop using my ‘book by the cover’ eyes.”
The album is also tough as nails where it counts – just listen to the caustic roar Ryder brings to the standout rocker and first single, Little Bit of Red. Other tracks such as All For Love, Blown Like The Wind, Stumbling Over You, When The Truth Just Walks Away and title track, Is It OK, uncover a plethora of emotions.
“This whole record is about realizing that the more we think we know, the less we do know,” she insists. “It’s about me coming to terms with the fact that I’m imperfect, about being comfortable with feeling what I’m feeling and embracing being human in any way I possibly can.”
Fortunately the process of making the record felt at times effortless for Ryder, who was completely at ease in the studio with such lofty session heavyweights as guitarist Lyle Workman (Pixies, Beck, Sting) and drummer Matt Chamberlain (Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, David Bowie).
“It was great because the process of writing the record and recording it were so cathartic,” says Ryder.
Her immense growth as a songwriter is evident throughout the album, especially as Ryder is able to bring optimism and energy even to the record’s darker moments.
Special advance ticket pricing for the 20th annual festival that runs Aug. 17 to 19 will be in place until May 25. Visit www.rootsandblues.ca, call 250-833-4096 or visit the office at the Salmon Arm Fairgrounds.