When it comes to music, comparisons are like a compass: they set you in the right direction, but they can't tell you what you'll find there.
Serena Pryne's voice evokes the tortured purity of Janis Joplin, the soulful power of Big Mamma Thornton, and Loretta Lynn's absorbing honesty. An impressive group of likes, to be sure. But even such praise only gives an inkling of the Canadian songstress' abilities.
Serena doesn't just sing; she combusts. As the first note strikes, from her place centre stage Serena explodes outwards. Her sincerity and energy envelops the crowd, transforming them from passive audience and taking them on a journey soaked in whiskey, sweat, and tears. And when the lights dim and the band exits, the crowd is left cleansed, changed, having stared straight into the burning heart of rock and roll.?With a mix of rock and blues, Serena's songwriting is as timeless as it is unforgettable.
"For me, the whole point is to be vulnerable, to be in the moment," says Pryne. "The payoff is playing the songs live and people getting something of it. To make a connection."
Serena's fearlessly earnest lyrics tell of hard miles and broken hearts. She takes from the miraculous and mundane minutiae of life, crafting relatable narratives that draw the listener in, thanks in no small part to the dynamics of her voice. One minute soft and lulling and the next a soaring siren's cry, her distinct vocals bring these stories to life.
Serena is never far from longtime collaborator, guitarist Nick Lesyk. His edgy, Texas flavoured playing blends perfectly with Serena's smoky dulcet tones. "We just clicked right away," says Serena. "We both knew what we wanted to do and how we wanted the songs to sound."
It was in this first meeting with Nick that Serena found her musical simpatico. Under the banner Oliver Black, the pair found early success signing with a New York label. Serena and company made the move south to Texas, submerging themselves in the burgeoning Austin music scene. They recorded what was to be their first international release.
But the big break was interrupted when the label went under, putting their album and future in limbo. Where most would have caved, Serena instead threw herself back into what she does best: making and playing music. This would mark a time of great change for Serena and her band. Several cross-Canada tours, and the eventual departure of their drummer and bassist.
Working closely with songwriter Dave "Dwave" Thomson, Serena and Nick continued to add to their catalogue. They adopted the name Serena Pryne and the Mandevilles, and played every show and showcase they could. It was at this time that they came to the attention of a Dutch music promoter. The pair soon found themselves across the pond for the first of several European tours. Spurred on by the positive response in Europe, Serena and Nick began recording an album which was later finished in Canada in late 2011. "Goodnight Golden Sun" is the culmination of years of hard work, ups and downs.
"We're a little older, a little wiser," says Serena. "The setbacks and dark times have only made us stronger."