Mitchell: Serena Ryder set to go supernova south of the border

CD Reviews

Serena Ryder:
Live (EMI)

Serena Ryder appears ready to make good on the promise of her Juno Award for Best New Artist that she won a couple of years ago. Her all-cover album of Canadiana, titled If Your Memory Serves You Well (from The Band song This Wheels On fire), and her major label studio album Is It O.K., has given Ryder a profile and following that has grown by leaps and bounds to where she is now a full-blown music-biz buzz breakout artist. 

In preparation for her upcoming new studio album, her label—the mighty EMI—has decided to release a nine-song mini album with six live songs and three studio treasures. 

Ryder has always been hailed for her commanding vocals that some have described as a cross between Alanis Morissette and Joss Stone but, truth be told, Ryder blows both of these singers out of the water. 

As if to prove this Ryder opens the short six-song live set (recorded in a club in South Carolina) with an a cappella version of her original Melancholy Blue, which is an immediate audience attention grabber. 

Ryder also sings her way through some of her adult alternative, self-penned rockers Little Bit Of Red and All For Love with a true rocker’s swagger. 

Her sexually inviting Weak In The Knees, her best known hit to date, is given a rootsy treatment with a quivery voice, somewhat like old guard Canadian star Buffy Saint Marie. 

BUT, the big selling point of this Live teaser CD is her new single titled Broken Heart Sun which is a fiery duet with American superstar Melissa Etheridge which is bound to break Ryder into a wider mainstream. 

To round out this sampler of live tracks Ryder has re-issued her glorious covers of Lenny Cohen’s Sisters Of Mercy (and thank mercy it wasn’t another ad nauseum cover of Hallelujah) and her gem What I Wanna Know from Is It O.K. 

A fine and handsome bonbon for Serena Ryder fans who I am sure are champing at the bit for her forthcoming studio album. 


Harry Connick Jr.:
In Concert, On
Broadway (Columbia)

With his frequent and friendly conversations with the audience we learn from Harry Connick Jr. that this new live recording titled In Concert, On Broadway was the last show of a lengthy tour schedule. 

But this concert was also taped by WNET’s Great Performances series for PBS which means you can catch this event for free on cable television. 

This new CD and DVD set finds the 42-year-old Connick Jr. at the peak of his game with 15 tracks on the audio disc and several more than that on the video concert where he covers classic gems such as St. James Infirmary and How Come You Do Me Like You Do?. 

Connick nicely blends his originals with old New Orleans, tin pan alley and ’40s/’50s pop standards about evenly, while On Broadway begins with his self-penned hit, We Are In Love. 

The two biggest highlights for me on this otherwise uniformly strong album is the nine-plus minute take of Besame Much and the closing series of songs taken directly from Connick’s hometown New Orleans sources. 

Besame Much is divided wonderfully into two parts with a trio instrumental with just Connick’s piano and bass and drums where Connick really shines on his wild and inventive ivory improvisations. The second half of the song features strings and horns along side his vocals that turns into one of the many highlights of the concert. 

Connick closes out this concert, filmed over two nights last July at the Neil Simon Theatre in New York, by returning to his Crescent City roots and an energetic workout of Professor Longhair’s Mardi Gras In New Orleans, Paul Barbain’s Bourbon Street Parade and Connick’s inspired original Take Her To Mardi Gras. 

There are also Sinatra-inspired pop gems of classics such as the Frank Loesser medley of My Time Of Day/I’ve Never Been In Love Before, Antonio Carlos Jobim’s moody How Insensitive, Dorothy Fields and Jerome Kerns romantic The Way You Look Tonight and Sammy Kahn’s All The Way. 

I am a sucker for these old evergreens and Connick plays them with virtuoso brilliance. 


Motorhead: The World Is Yours (EMI)

On the back liner of this new, all-original studio album, Motorhead have emblazoned the letters XXXV as in the Roman numerals for 35. That is how many years Lemmy Kilminster and crew have been blasting out their brand of speed metal and the cult of Lemmy and Motorhead shows absolutely no signs of slowing down despite advancing years. 

Kilminster was at the forefront of 1970s English ‘grea-bo’ metal, as in greaseball metal given the bands penchant for non grooming and dirty old biker leathers, but Motorhead have always been a source of fun and cheap thrills for the headbanger crowd. 

Many of their albums are more or less interchangeable and nothing on The World Is Yours seems like it will replace the The Ace Of Spades as the band’s signature showpiece song, but the speed and grease and grime of this new album will keep old Motorhead fans delighted. 

Note that this also comes as a CD and DVD set with concert footage from Live At Waken 2006 with self-explanatory song titles such as Love Me Like A Reptile, Dancing On Your Grave and, most significantly, Fast And Loose. 

And because Lemmy and the rest of Motorhead are zombie/vampire non-biodegradable greasers, they should have no problems putting up another XXXV after The World Is Yours tours. 


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