Suffusing heartfelt lyrics into a romantic sound, Lily Ryder just released her first EP, Movement Four, which features five powerful melodies that symbolize a fundamental transition in Ryder’s way of life.
A Santa Barbara native who was honored with one of this newspaper’s Indy Theater Awards in 2018, the singer/songwriter had been busy with undergraduate coursework at the Clive Davis Institute at New York University until the pandemic spurred a trip home last spring. “I didn’t have anything to do,” she said of arriving home for the COVID-19 quarantine, so focusing on the EP became a way to dive deeper into her creativity and collaboration.
Working entirely from her bedroom, Ryder recorded and produced with one of her oldest friends — and prom date — Chris Cassriel. “The opportunity for collaboration is amazing, across disciplines,” said Ryder, who believes that NYU and the surrounding environment is propelling her craft. She continues to find inspiration in her friends, and the EP’s iridescent cover arose out of a casual photo shoot.
Featuring songs that were written over the course of a year, Movement Four explores melancholy tones bridged by passionate hooks. Ryder lays her cards face up with her lyrics: Singing, “I’m not afraid of coming clean,” she excavates beauty through her vulnerability.
“The most difficult thing about music and performing is that you have to show yourself,” she explained. “You can’t fake it, or people know.”
Production-wise, she’s most proud of the first song, “Call Me When You Get This.” The experimental track buoyed by convolved strings and ambient vocals carries the mark of expertise. Collecting meandering melodies and textured alto-vocals, the tracks complement her autobiographical lyrics.
The last track on the EP, “Water,” captures the universal complexity of leaving your hometown for a different life. “The song is about being home and the complex relationship you have with the place you grew up,” said Ryder. “I love Santa Barbara and treasure it. It was so hard for me to leave. [‘Water’] is a reminder of the amazing parts of being in S.B. without diminishing the struggle that I have with it.”
When describing Movement Four, as a whole, Ryder told me that the story takes the “perspective of looking back and making peace with a really difficult time in your life, knowing that it’s not going away but you’re also moving forward.”
She hopes listeners can find inner strength and creativity when listening to her album. “I would just hope that people can listen to it and fully open themselves up to feelings and thoughts and themselves in ways they otherwise would not be able to, to push their art further,” she said.
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