Thursday, December 6, 8pm
Casino Nova Scotia, Schooner Room, 1983 Upper Water Street
In the middle of a conversation about her new Christmas album, Serena Ryder can't help but sing just a hint of it. "Like, what song is this," she giggles, before singing a line—the joy surmounts the shoddy phone connection. "Like what? It's 'I'll Be Home for Christmas.'"
Her new record, Christmas Kisses, includes a peppy original song of the same name plus nine covers of holiday standards. Throughout a brief conversation, Ryder doesn't waver from that feeling of simple, honest joy: This music is pure, she says, and "exciting in a way that releasing a record has never been."
Musically, Christmas Kisses breaks from the folk-rock sound that Ryder is best known for; its sound is indebted to jazz greats like Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone, the artists whose music first captivated her as a child and still bring her back to a feeling of youthful wonder.
"It's my favourite kind of Christmas music," she says. "It's the stuff that just sounds so good, it's the classics."
While her upcoming appearances—including a show tonight at Casino Nova Scotia—may be this record's live debut, the shows also represent a full-circle moment for Ryder. "Jingle Bell Rock," which she faithfully covers on the record, was also one of a handful of songs she performed at her very first gig. Picture eight-year-old Ryder, poised on stage at the Legion in Millbrook, Ontario, singing about rocking the night away for a sparse crowd of family members and aging community members. It's a magical scene, almost too good to be true.
"That sense of innocence and awe and excitement that you get as a little kid has been coming back to me through this record, which is really amazing," she says. "It's made me fall in love with the spirit of Christmas in a totally different way."