Serena Ryder's sixth studio album, 2013's Harmony, showcases the Canadian singer/songwriter's soulful and bluesy music mixing Dusty Springfield-esque '60s R&B with a contemporary pop aesthetic. Ryder has a huge following in Canada, where her albums have gone gold and platinum and earned her several Juno awards. Prior to the release of her single "Stompa" -- included on Harmony -- she was not as well known in the United States, but the release of Harmony will probably go a long way toward raising her profile outside of Canada. Ryder possesses a powerful voice with a throaty timbre and a nasal resonance, making her the perfect vehicle for her brand of soulful rock. Not surprisingly, she's drawn favorable comparisons to both Melissa Etheridge and Adele, and Harmony will do nothing to dissuade such allusions. Admittedly, Ryder fits snugly into the post-Amy Winehouse crew of female vocalists with songs that oscillate between moments of Southern soul, contemporary R&B, and mainstream melodic rock. If Ryder's voice weren't so engaging, or if she weren't so emotionally believable on Harmony, some of the Winehouse/Mark Ronson-esque production via Jerrod Bettis and Jon Levine might cause the average listener, bombarded with a slew of Winehouse-wannabes, to tune out. However, Ryder is such a compelling singer and her songs are, by and large, so catchy that such generalities are easy to dismiss. Primarily, Ryder avoids the retro-tag by delivering a handful of gutsy, organic torch songs like "Please," "Heavy Love," and "Mary Go Round," all of which owe far less to the stylized production and more to the unique sound of her voice and the quality of her songwriting.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Collar