Category Archives: Music

Book Review: Lightfoot by Nicholas Jennings

 

LightfootI think I have spoiled myself. I have set a high bar for biographies after reading books on the lives of Keith Richards, Paul McCartney and the Beatles, Robbie Robertson among others. I have written on this blog before the effect reading a great biography has on me. I end up spending days and weeks listening to the music of the book’s subject buying the music I am reading about. This has happened after reading about Led Zeppelin (When Giants Walked the Earth) and Joni Mitchell (The Creative Odyssey of Joni Mitchell even though the book was just okay) where I added CD’s from each of these artists and more. I would say that reading about the music maker is my greatest motive for adding to my music library.

Written on the Inside front flap of the cover of the book is “…Jennings (the author) had unlimited access to the reticent musician. Lightfoot takes us deep inside the artist’s world…” Note that Lightfoot is italicized; my perception was that Gordon Lightfoot himself was going to bring readers and his fans into his world, something that Lightfoot has protected tightly.

Make no mistake, Lightfoot is the most comprehensive book written about Canada’s original folk singer-songwriter troubadour. Jennings provides a view into the life of Lightfoot. There is just enough of Lightfoot in the book to know that Jennings had spent significant time with him. The early years in Orillia are very well documented and give us a look into the musical talent that Lightfoot’s mother stimulated and encouraged from kitchen table concerts to Church services to public performances and winning talent shows.

There are multiple voices heard throughout the book, wives, girlfriends, business partners and artists that Lightfoot has played and written with, including Bob Dylan. The most interesting chapters of the book involved the early years finding his voice in a sea of other performers, touring and recording. Sadly a lot of what is written in this period comes from those around him. There is just enough from Gordon himself to add credibility of the “unlimited access” talked about on the inside flap.

What is lacking is more of Gordon Lightfoot. The early years could have used more of his take on the music and performing and collaborations and his take on his success, or why it was taking so long. Lightfoot’s music is his legacy; we are familiar with it and long to know more about it. Lightfoot could have used some focus; perhaps leading to ending the book in the lead up to 1976 and the success of that years surprise hit “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”. Without that focus, Lightfoot seems needlessly stretched to include GL’s sporadic recording since after the 2002 hospitalization and the near death experience following a collapse before a hometown concert in Orillia.

If Jennings had been able to extract more from Lightfoot, there might a reason to write about Lightfoot’s music past 1980, without it the book struggles to keep its audience.

The true test of course to the success of Lightfoot is whether or not I spent a significant amount of time listening to Gordon Lightfoot’s music. I didn’t. There was nothing to spur me on to listen back and hear in the music what Lightfoot was thinking or feeling at any particular time during his best creative years.

Lightfoot’s fans will enjoy the book, but it is best to limit expectations. Lightfoot himself doesn’t have the voice that was promised; if he had, there would’ve been a depth I’ve found other books of the same genre.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

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What I learned from the Hip

Hip 1I am just an average Tragically Hip fan, I have never experienced the band live.  I am probably more of an admirer than what people would call a true fan, I bought the CD’s created the iPod playlist and chose to learn to play Ahead by a Century on my new guitarI can’t say that I remember how to play it today if I took the guitar out of its case. I consider the Hip to be the new Guess Who, who I grew up listening to with songs of Canadiana. You can’t forget about Running back to Saskatoon; Share the Land, Albert Flasher and of course American Woman. So back we go to about 15 years after the Guess Who and here come the Tragically Hip, 5 kids from Kingston who before we knew it started telling us more about Canada and taught us and reminded us about a nation we weren’t aware of.

The Hip opened up the stories of Canada through their songs. There is the cottage anthem of Bobcageon, the Maple Leaf anthem of Stanley Cup angst 50 Mission Cap and the vastness of the west that include the Paris of Prairies. Like the Guess Who and Gordon Lightfoot their music the Hip created a pride in Canada through their music.

As the word of the Hip spread so did their celebration of not only Canada, but also of whom they were – they were us – you and I. We were and are students of the Hip. The first lesson is that we are all equal. They were equals among themselves and because of that they survived. The Tragically Hip was able to stay together for 30 plus years because they didn’t break up.  The Hip battled through the difficult times.  Simple to say, but harder to do. Image five brothers that stay together for 30 years. In a typical family there is always an oldest brother, a youngest brother and a middle brother. Could the five brothers stay together with those dynamics in place?

Equality created the staying power of the Hip and only when it was clear that the limits of time were ending did Gord Downie seek to create equality for those that had it taken from them. Their music brought Canadians together, around a campfire, the small concert halls and during the #ManMachinePoem Farewell Tour where thousands gathered in public squares, parks, bars and living rooms to watch the Farewell show from Kingston.

From the Hip we learn again, learn to seek our purpose, large or small while there is
time and we work on our purpose until there is no more time. Their music will live on like other bands, dare I say it, as The Beatles, the universal presence of their music will grow and their appeal will continue to expand.   Because there isn’t going to be new music their musical legacy will outlast many others because of the popularity and the connections the Tragically Hip made with Canadians in every bar and on every concert stage they played on. We loved and embraced their music “Fully Completely”.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I post about the little things in life I see and do. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

Cancon: The making of MAPL music

RHBS184The recent death of Lighthouse founder Skip Prokop highlighted not only his musical prowess with the success he had with hits “Pretty Lady”, “Hats off to the Stranger” and “One Fine Morning”, but he also politically provided key testimony during the initial phases of Canadian content in Canadian radio.*

In his obituary posted in the Globe and Mail (September 8, 2017) Prokop appeared at CRTC hearings in 1970 stating “…in part the kids who are recording will start getting hit records. Then Canadian kids will start paying a certain amount of money to go and see them in concert. This creates the beginning of an industry – you start creating stars within your own country. This is something that Canada has never really had.”

Did his words strike true? Has the introduction of cancon developed the Canadian music industry? Would we have fewer Canadian musical artists cracking the US Charts if cancon had not come into being? If the government had not instituted the Canadian content rules would we have April Wine, Streetheart, Prism and others that may have had a small ripple in the United States but mainly have had successful Canadian careers? Concentrating on the first two decades of cancon, who would not have been here? Who should we thank cancon for, for having some artists in our record collections, mixed tapes and digital music play lists?

Knowingly I have not included names like Bryan Adams, Rush, The Guess Who/BTO, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Anne Murray and Gordon Lightfoot. These successful careers were based on influences that were are entirely due to the introduction of cancon rules. The longevity of their careers has guaranteed their music stays out of the “Canadian” bins due to international sales and tours.

RHBS184 1The MAPL system of identifying Canadian content was established by the CRTC in 1971. The MAPL designation identified the Music, Artist, Performance and Lyrics as being solely Canadian. To be a cancon selection two of the MAPL categories had to be of Canadian origin.

The initial success of Lighthouse was borne before cancon rules were in place, though the rules certainly may have extended their radio success. What about other bands, that as Canadians we love, but won’t be more than a passing interest to Americans?

Without prejudice I wonder what the fate would’ve been for the following Canadian musicians/bands if cancon had not been mandated. These bands all had fabulous success in Canada (I have most of these discs in vinyl). Below are just a few cancon era bands I personally love to hear in my playlist.

The 5 Man Electrical Band made more money when Signs was covered by Tesla in 1990 than they did in 1971 under their own name. An Ottawa based band they had other memorable songs including Werewolf and Absolutely Right.  With three big hits they have every right to play the reunion fall fair concert circuit.

The Stampeders had 16 singles charting in Canada from 1971 to 1976, they had but four songs crack the US.   Cancon has been good to The Stampeders. How else do you explain never cracking the top 10 in 7 years and maintaining a solid fans base today while continuing to hear Carry Me, Sweet City Woman and Hit the Road Jack in rotation at Canadian oldies radio stations?

I have nothing but smiles for the music of Michel Pagliaro. He was HUGE in Quebec starting in 1968 but for the rest of Canada it’s songs like Rainshowers and What the Hell I Got, which scored big for Pagliaro in English Canada and cancon gold.

It was the 80’s classic My Girl (Gone Gone Gone) from Chilliwack that made it big in the US but in the early cancon days Chilliwack sustained their career with songs like Lonesome Mary, California Girl , Fly at Night (not to be confused with Rush’s hit Fly by Night) that sustained the band via cancon.

Born from a cancon homegrown music contest, there is no better band than Honeymoon Suite to represents the success of Toronto’s Q107 radio contest. Honeymoon Suite won that contest with the hit New Girl Now. The band scored 6 Top 40 songs in Canada and 2 Top 40 hits in the US.   Without cancon rules and Canadian radio looking for new talent to play it is hard to know just where Honeymoon Suite would be.

With 19 singles released in Canada between the years 1977-1981, Prism is a cancon success. I’m surprised to see their lead single Spaceship Superstar only charted as high as 63 in Canada in 1977. I thought it was a fabulous song! In four years Prism charted 10 times in Canada and 5 times in the US. Prism’s success is cancon-centric, something to be proud of with 5 well received albums by Canadian rock and pop music lovers.

In an odd cancon twist of success, Saga scored big with 5 LP’s from 1980 to 87, but is a European twist; Saga has charted albums in Germany since 1981’s Worlds Apart. Saga soared with a top 3 hit in Canada and Top 30 in the US with On the Loose in 1981. With initial success in Canada the band has succeeded to continue to see success and to tour consistently. As a nod to their German fans Saga has released three CD/DVD concerts sets recorded in Bonn and Munich since 2004.

Canada has shown a real love for its homegrown bands. Whether it was cancon that created the environment for the love, Skip Prokop was prophetic when he appeared at the CRTC hearing back in 1970, “(cancon) creates the beginning of an industry – you start creating stars within your own country.”

*The CRTC mandated that 35% of music played on Canadian music must be considered Canadian content.  2 of the 4 categories of the MAPL pie must be either composed, written or performed by a Canadian to meet content.  Classical radio stations and Windsor ON stations had reduced content regulations.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I post about the little things in life I see and do.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

No Music No Life

RHBS 183“No Music No Life” was the branding used by Tower Records in the US right up to the day they closed their doors for good. I cast a tear watching the documentary, All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records the other night.  Like all those that passed through the doors of Towers Records locations, I loved going into record stores and through the aisles and piles of records. Even today whether I purchase anything or not it is still a pleasure for me.

Watching Colin Hanks’ documentary and the images he used had memories streaming of browsing the racks and bins of vinyl the mail slot wall of 45’s at Sunrise Records (I believe that was the store) in the old Mississauga Sheridan Mall.

I remember the smell of new vinyl, the feel of the wrapped new records and I remember the days were grease pencils were used to mark the price and not stickers. There was nothing better than using a finger nail to remove the cellophane wrap from an LP after taking it out the square bag that was perfectly designed to hold the new 12” LP that was selected with care. I pity those that have no fingernails and had to use (I shudder at the thought of it) a knife or scissors to cut the cellophane and possibly damage the custom sleeve or the disc.

I lived in record stores, and if I didn’t have bills that need to get paid I’d there 24/7. In fact there was a time where I almost owned a record store. My inspiration was Ian Fraser who purchased Laughing Gnome Records in Stratford Ontario. I was in there every day, when I wasn’t on the air on CJCS. How could I beat the life I had then? I played vinyl all day and went to talk about records with Ian in his shop. I was a record store brat. I understood how people that worked in Tower Records felt. There was no place like a record shop. As the signs in Tower Records said, “No Music No Life”, it was a lifestyle.

RHBS 183 2When working in Stratford in the late 80’s, I loved the idea of being in a record shop all day I was on the verge of opening a shop of my own. I wanted to specialize in Jazz and Classics. York Street Classics and Jazz, was going to be the name of a recently renovated retail space, specializing in custom orders and using the store as a performance location for local musicians. It would have been a really unique space, sadly it just didn’t come together.

So day I spend time in Compact Music in Ottawa and with the closure of HMV I know get to browse again in Sunrise Records. It is a pleasure to see increased racks and variety in the selection of music on vinyl. I think I am being called back in time.

RHBS 183 3Looking back at the records I purchased I had good collection, not great, pretty good. Like most collectors re-arranging, cataloguing was all part of it, being into music that much defined me and to this day I have to escape just listen while I work. A few years back I had to think about downsizing and over a couple of years went from 3000 Lp’s to my essential 250. My inspiration was the late Robert Palmer who did the same thing out of sheer need. Now the essential 250 are in storage waiting for the day to come up to be heard once more.

My last LP purchased was Elton John’s “Sleeping with the Past” in 1989, until July of this year when I picked up the newly remixed and remastered Beatles Sgt. Pepper. So flipping through the bins is becoming a ritual once again. However, until I get the turntable out of storage and bring the albums up, I will only be going through the actions. Someday soon I’ll again feel the moment of removing the wrapping, feeling freshly pressed vinyl going from my hands to the turntable and hearing the sound of the needle dropping.   Soon…because no music no life is a real thing

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I post about the little things in life I see and do.

The last of summer music

As the summer nights fade away and the lazy autumn days approach here’s a last look at the music of my summer. This follows earlier posts from the start of the summer “When I’m 81, #SgtPepper75” and “Summer Music”. Now that the eclipse has come and gone, here’s a brief look at the last of my summer music, what is new, and what drew me back to the past for great music.

London Grammar

I get hints and tips for new music from many sources and I first saw London Grammar on the shelves of Compact Music in downtown Ottawa. The title caught my attention, “Truth is a Beautiful Thing”. “Truth”, it turned out was the bands’ second disc. The person, who I assume manages the store, told me that it he had not listened to it yet, but based on his favourable opinion of their first disc he was looking forward to this. I asked that he let me know when I came in the following week. Not a few days later, Q on CBC Radio One featured an interview and in-studio performance. Now that I’ve had a few listens to “Truth” the late evening summer vibes of London Grammar fit in perfectly with balcony lighting and conversation. It is reminiscent of newer female vocalists Lorde, Halsey and established voices like Annie Lennox and Dido. I am tempted to pair Lennox’s latest CD Nostalgia with “Truth is a Beautiful Thing”. It would be as tasteful to the ears as a good Merlot is with a perfectly BBQed sirloin steak.

The Barenaked Ladies and The Persuasions

In what seemed at first to me to be a throwaway effort of music turned out to be a fun listen. I waited, hummed and hawed before picking this up. This is an assembly of BNL tunes rearranged for an a cappella performance and it sounds like it should, a microphone set up and friends gathered around it together and sing.  It’s great to hear old favourites with that new twist. Some arrangements require a second listen, but when you get it, it’s fabulous. I’ve treated this as an opportunity to re-hear how songs written, in what seems like a musical generation ago, sound new and re-imagined. Is it a grab to bring fans back? Possibly, but after the first listen you forget about it and rediscover the fun of BNL, with just a bit of “Persuasion” added.

The Doors

Who says you always have to get something ‘new’? Sometimes a purchase to pad the collection has to be made. It’s not so much about getting music that I’ve forgotten, but it’s because some really good music was made. The Very Best of the Doors was released on the 40th anniversary of the Doors first Lp (and purchased by me on the 50th anniversary). Listening to this collection is a reminder of how hypnotic Jim Morrison could be lyrically and how mesmerizing the band sounded. I won’t have this in constant repeat , but knowing I have it is a relief because sometimes going back in time is all you need. Really, for the end of summer there is nothing better than a romp through the 60’s and 70’s, even if it is a seven-minute romp of ‘LA Woman’.

Nick Heyward

Whether it was Haircut 100, or his solo discs, Nick Heyward is one of those artists that I always follow and have a keen interest in. From the one Haircut 100 Lp to his first three solo discs I’ve loved the breezy light infectious pop he always produced. I became aware of Woodland Echo through Heyward’s Instagram account and his pledge music drive to fund the making of the record. I was in! I pledged the 25 pounds that would get me a signed copy of the CD fresh from the UK and waited. There were snippets of the music online, it was trademark Nick Heyward. Woodland Echo is Heyward’s first new set of music on disc in 18 years and my first new Heyward music purchased since 1988’s I Love You Avenue. As I waited for my copy of the new disc I prepped myself by revisiting the disc ‘North of a Miracle’, ‘Postcards from Home’ and ‘I Love You Avenue’. 18 years on, his song writing remains as I recall it with a bit of swing, easy to sway to and English pop. It fits in perfectly with the rest when I have all Nick Heyward’s music on shuffle. My signed copy, number 6 of 1500, will be a long listening fave. I hope I don’t have to wait another 18 years – that would put us both in our 70’s. NOTE: Paul McCartney is writing and performing in his 70’s, so maybe I can expect that from Nick Heyward.

The Beach Boys

Does any music say summer more than the Beach Boys? My intrigue this summer with Pet Sounds comes from watching the 2014 biopic on Brian Wilson “Love and Mercy”. The movie is about the indulgence of Brian Wilson making, actually change that to creating “Pet Sounds”. For all the personal struggles that Wilson was going through in the months of producing a summer classic, he did just that. A masterpiece was made and in was summer wrapped up in under 3 minutes. With ‘Wouldn’t it be nice’, ‘Sloop John B’ and ‘Caroline No’ and ‘God only knows’ my summer of ’17 was nostalgic and memorable.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I post about the little things in life I see and do.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

Music Review: Bob Dylan in Ottawa

No longer do I need to have a Bob Dylan concert on a bucket list, if I had one.

After reading Robbie Robertson’s Testimony, my interest in Dylan was piqued, and during the show the musical ghosts of Robertson*, Helm, Manuel, Danko and Hudson* were on stage for me along with the crack band backing Dylan on this tour.

On tour in support of his newest 3 CD set, Triplicate, Dylan appeared to have fun with standards like Old Black Magic, Autumn Leaves and Stormy Weather. I was thank full to have Jim with me at this his 15th Dylan show telling me the titles of Dylan rollicking through classics like Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright, Duquesne Whistle and Highway 61 Revisited.

In a stage setting that reminded me of a ballroom, not unlike what Dylan would have played in with the Band in the 60’s and 70’s, the lighting was simple and suited the show. The lighting different in that all the lighting was directed from the rear of stage or the side, there was never any light on the faces of the band or Dylan. What we got was the iconic image of Bob Dylan’s silhouette of his head and hair from his Greatest Hits albums.

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My impressions of the show are much more than musical, they are of Dylan having fun, behind the piano for much of the show. I missed seeing him playing the guitar, that is the image I had of him in my head. Now I see a man playing the piano like someone who just discovered boogie-woogie, his feet dancing below while his fingers danced over the keyboard.

Dylan is not one for words and in Ottawa he did not speak a word to the audience, but his singing surprised me. I did not know what to expect, I had read and heard of a Dylan whose vocal range was limited at best. In Ottawa, Dylan’s gravel voice was pure Dylan, nothing more and nothing less – just Dylan and that was good for me.

With about a third of the set list from recent cover recordings, that left a lot of ground for him to get to for the rest of the 100-minute performance. While I did not know them before, Desolation Row and the final song of the night Ballad of a Thin Man were highlights along with the previously mentioned Highway 61 Revisited and Duquesne Whistle. The only disappointment was Blowing in the Wind, even Jim didn’t recognize the song  until we got to the chorus.

No photos or video were allowed, and if you were tempted and took either you would be escorted out as one gentleman beside me was. So, I have two images from last night, the one I took at the end of the night when the roadies hit the stage once the house lights went up, posted here. The other is of Bob Dylan in his white dinner jacket, one hand on his waist like Superman and the other holding his mic stand as he stood there looking out over his adoring and dedicated fans as if saying, ‘here I am, I have conquered Ottawa until my next visit here’.

Now I that I have seen Dylan live, there are too many other songs to hear him perform to say this will be my last Bob Dylan concert.

*Yes, they are still alive

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

Summer Music

I like to buy and listen to a lot of new music, always looking for something that is going to make my head swing, get my feet going and find a song that I have to put on repeat. On my iPod I have a playlist I titled “New and Noteworthy”. The past few weeks I have added few new selections to the playlist, they make up part of my summer music.

Buckingham/McVie “Buckingham/McVie”

For Fleetwood Mac fans do not confuse Buckingham/McVie with the 1973 Lp Buckingham/Nicks, but let me just say, if you a fan of Fleetwood Mac, this is a MUST have for you. It can be called, though it wasn’t, a reunion album for the band. The only person missing form performing is Stevie Nicks, but you don’t miss her. The sound on this album took me back to 1975’s Fleetwood Mac Lp, you know – the one BEFORE Rumours.

It is clear that the same musical chemistry that propelled Fleetwood Mac in the ‘70’s has not faded 40 years later. These two sound good together, the song writing is great with each contributing their own songs and collaborating on others. Key tracks on this disc are ‘Sleeping Around the Corner’, ‘Red Sun’, ‘Game of Pretend’ and ‘Feel About You’. The challenge is to shuffle Fleetwood Mac with Buckingham/McVie and try to differentiate the two.

With Fleetwood Mac touring this summer (with Stevie Nicks) you can bet the new Buckingham/McVie material will fit right in.

Fiest “Pleasure”

This CD was sadly, anything but a pleasure to listen to. I found it missing the melodies and musicality of her previous outings. I never expect to hear another ‘1-2-3-4’, but almost every track on this record is so far from it that it would be hard to recognize it as a Fiest record at all. “Pleasure “ is stripped down, and stripped down works for some artists, Johnny Cash is an example, but it doesn’t work for Fiest. It does not work for me because of Fiest vocals; they don’t match the raw guitars, the raw production and yes, the raw songs written for the records.

I heard Fiest interviewed by Tom Brown on CBC’s q; there she says that women will better understand this record. Maybe that’s it; I gave this record a few extra spins hoping the music would grow on me. I am disappointed that it didn’t – I really wanted to like this record, but I am not ready to give up on it either.

Ruth B “Safe Haven”

It took me forever to learn that it was Ruth B behind the song ‘Lost Boy’, only after seeing her perform the song at the Juno Awards did it click just how good the song was.. On that performance I went and purchased the EP “the Intro”, then “Safe Haven came out. Ruth B has an amazing voice and just might be the soul/r&b singer that Canada has been waiting for. In fact the comparisons to Alicia Keys are very much warranted.

Through Safe Haven, Ruth B surprises and presents a sound that may have been in the works for years. It is a maturity that could be equal to, yes – Alicia Keys. With key tracks like ‘Dandelions’, ‘World war 3’, ‘First Love’ and ‘Superficial Love’ make Safe Haven a Summer Album for me. I hope that you will also make it one of your summer listens for the summer of ’17.

Lorde “Melodrama”

With no new music planned from Taylor Swift (but that doesn’t mean something won’t drop before Christmas) Lorde’s follow up to the 2012 Heroine had the largest expectations of all of this years new music releases. Melodrama opens up with the lead single ‘Green Light’, one of the best songs I have heard all year. My worry was if it would be the best song on the album. With a percussion driven set of songs, Melodrama that will remind you of her debut, but in Melodrama I found myself on a few occasions thinking of Phil Collins and the trademark sound he had on his solo work. As different as each song is, each track also melts into the next, almost seamlessly. Lorde’s vocals are unique, her phrasing is unlike what we still don’t hear a lot of today, and yet it is still not tiring to listen to. Melodrama was a good surprise, bit of Heroine but also lots of growth over four years. It may not have a ‘Royals’, but it doesn’t need one.

Serena Ryder “Utopia”

I saw Serena Ryder last summer in Thunder Bay play off Lake Superior on an all-Canadian bill that also featured Gowan and Tom Cochrane. I have been listening to Serena Ryder since she released “If Your Memory Serves You Well” in 2006, and I learned about her from Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap on the CBC,  I’ve been listening since the early days of ‘Little bit of Red’, ‘Good Morning Starshine’ and ‘You were on My Mind’. 2012’s ‘Stompa’ was huge leap for Ryder and ‘Got Your Number’ was an early indication to me that she continuing the leap.

With Utopia, the evolution continues, Ryder’s song writing continues to grow and here the songs are personal, more than before, as she trusts herself more to lay out her life before us. Along with ‘number’, ‘Hands’, ‘Ice Age’ and ‘Sanctuary’ demonstrate what I think are some of Ryder’s’ best songs in years. Utopia as a destination is a high reach; musically for Serena Ryder, Utopia is a place we can hear a performer continue to grow.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.