Friday Fresh Picks: Serena Ryder – Harmony

serena ryder

It’s 8:51am right now, on a Friday, and I am so bloody thankful for that. It’s a little early for getting up on a day off, but I passed out practically the moment I hit the covers last night, I was so tired. I’m sitting under my covers, laptop on my lap, a nutty tea nearby, listening to Serena Ryder, having a full day to myself ahead. It’s perfection.

I had no idea what I was going to write for Friday Fresh Picks today when I got up. I’d been making playlists and listening all week, but nothing recent was coming under my radar. I discovered a few new things- Kris Allen’s Horizons, which was a little disappointing after how much I loved his last album. I test-drove Meghan Trainor’s new EP, Title, as well. All About That Bass was the only track I’d listen to again, and the title annoys me. Every time I see it I just think that some overworked intern must have put it in as a placeholder until they found out what the actual title was, and then nobody noticed until they released it that way. The word ‘title’ for an album doesn’t intrigue me at all, and makes me think that someone on her team must be just a little bit incompetent. I mean, that has to be the least creative name for an album I’ve ever seen. Even her name would be an improvement. </rant>

But anyway. My last few album reviews have been less than enthusiastic, and I wanted to share something that I genuinely fell for. I didn’t figure I was going to find anything at such short notice, but I stumbled on a pop playlist in Google Play that led me to Serena Ryder’s Heavy Love, and there’s something about her that hits the spot.

Harmony is an alternative/indie album released earlier this year. It’s got a very acoustic feel, with a heavy piano presence, and Ryder’s voice dominating. Her vocals are beautiful, with just enough of a rough edge to make it soulful. She uses familiar techniques and cliches, but avoids sounding like everything I’ve already heard before, which is a real mark of talent in my books. Overall, there were songs I liked better than others, but none I’d write off completely which is also a rarity.

Heavy Love is a wonderful angry ballad, piano-heavy and moody, and likely the one you’ve heard from her if you’ve heard her at all, as it’s a single. Stompa starts off sultry, and when the bass kicks in, it’s a perfect moment musically. For You sounds like the soundtrack to the typical ballroom dance scene in a spy movie, and has some lovely jazz overtones. Mary Go Round has some country undertones, which would normally be off-putting to me, but it’s a wonderful roadtrip-type track that I’ll listen to on repeat. The chorus is made to sing along to. Nobody But You is an acoustic cover of an old folk songs, and a satisfying sign-off.

Harmony gets 4.5/5 in my book for being so well-crafted and satisfying, so I absolutely recommend that you go find yourself a copy and have a listen. Here’s Mary Go Round for your listening pleasure to give you a sneak peak.

P.S. Check out the interview sheet she filled out for MetroLyrics about some of her songwriting inspiration and habits if you’re curious.

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