Serena Ryder sings with conviction; she’s sexy but she also sounds like she could kick your ass. The Canadian, Juno Award-winning singer-songwriter played the intimate City Winery on February 25 to audience cheers and turned the place into a sing-a-long that fans appreciated by the show’s end. Opening for Howie Day, Ryder wore a red, layered skirt that looked part flapper, part Meatpacking District minx, along with knee-high black boots. The soulful opening of “Sweeping The Ashes” quickly illustrated to the crowd that they were in the presence of an iconic rock voice, along the likes of Stevie Nicks, Janis Joplin and Melissa Etheridge. Ryder raised her voice spiritedly on some of the notes and captured everyone’s attention. “Let me feel, let me feel what I’m feeling tonight,” she sang, and you could sense Ryder’s soul with the “whoa-ohs” and a moving guitar melody.
Following the song, Serena Ryder chatted with her fans and mentioned that she was invited to be an official performer at the Olympics saying “I am excited that Canada won a little, it’s pretty exciting.” At which point she later said “OK, boring!”
Anything but boring actually, Ryder’s seven-song set continued, so rich with emotion and melody that it felt like her own headlining show. Ryder introduced the next song and said “I was writing in an empty bathtub in a very small hotel I was staying in for about a month and I was writing songs feeling sorry for myself. And I was like ‘why do I feel bad for myself? I’m in a hotel room writing songs!’” Her song intros add color to the songs and it was especially welcome as she started “Brand New Love.” The vocal was soft and sweet on this love song as Serena sang “We’ll stain our lips with the color of wine, and then we kiss and everything is fine again.” She held out a long note shortly after this lyric and it gradually grew louder to audience applause.