Review Summary: Serena Ryder goes in a different direction from her previous releases, and it still sounds like Serena Ryder.
If it weren't for her recent big hit "Stompa", Serena Ryder would be forever known for her country-esque hit "Weak in the Knees". Most of her previous discography has that country-folk-rock sound to it, but immediately upon hearing "Stompa", most would think that this time she's aiming to get people dancing in their seats. Well, not really. This album does have a somewhat similar feel, all the while being a departure towards a more pop sound.
The best thing about her fourth and most recent release, Harmony
, is that it leaves you feeling satisfied. None of the tracks make you feel like your time is being wasted and no two songs sound the same, the whole album is satisfying and it leaves you wanting more. Whereas most of If Your Memory Serves You Well
and Is it OK
sounded all too similar, Harmony
is her most diverse album and it showcases Ryder expiring new territory that you'd never have thought she'd take her mediums to. It also is much "catchier" than both of the previous mentioned albums, but it does have some good ballads that wouldn't be out of place on an Adele disc.
The album will get people in a good mood right away with the opener "What I Wouldn't Do", which sports a catchy beat and pretty cliched love song lyrics, but it works and gets people in a good mood right away. It's fast paced, catchy, has a fun singalong chorus and is sure to get people moving right off the bat. There's also the above mentioned "Stompa", which actually is different on the album as it begins with a dramatic intro not heard on the radio cut: "Nothing's gone/It still shines/Every time you turn it on/And when you slow it down...
". From there on it segues into the radio cut, and it adds a lot. Perhaps the catchiest and most fun song is "Baby Come Back", which is nothing short of being insanely catchy and has a fun drumbeat, it can get people dancing right away just from the intro. The chorus is very memorable and the experimental outro is cool too.
But it's the ballads that you have to look forward to most: "Call Me" is very Adele-influenced and Piano-heavy, something that doesn't happen a lot on Ryder recordings. It sounds like a slightly faster "Set Fire to the Rain", but more forceful and more memorable, and unlike the said Adele track it won't drive you the point of near insanity. "Please Baby Please" features Ryder singing a duet with a male vocalist, and they sure have a lot of chemistry among the slow piano and string combo. And probably the best song is "Heavy Love", which is another piano-heavy song with a catchy chorus and a mainly uptempo beat, and the chord progression throughout the song is very nice as well, "Got a heavy love/Rollin like thunder/Coming from above/Made sure that you're under/Falling like the rain/Burning like fire/Got a heavy love/Do you think you're strong enough?
Of course it's flawed- "For You" and "Fall" grate ever-so-slightly, and "Nobody But You" would have benefitted from being just a bit longer (but the a Capella is nice), but Harmony
is a success because it shows Ryder moving forward musically while still staying true to herself. People who are used to her more folk-rock sound may need to give it a few spins before they form an opinion of it, but either way, it's a huge step forward for Ryder, and bound to become her biggest album yet, as was The Reminder
to Feist. So by all means, pick this album up, as there's a lot of good stuff to be heard.
Check out these tracks:
Baby Come Back