Unravel, Serafin LaRiviere
Serafin LaRiviere (they/them) has performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Massey Hall, the Toronto Jazz Festival, and alongside industry legends. The artist put a successful career as a jazz musician on hold after being approved to adopt a young son – a tremendously lengthy and often difficult experience for anyone. The experience was exceptionally difficult for the LaRiviere family, as Serafin identifies as gender non-binary in a LGBTQ+ partnership.
After a nearly 10-year hiatus, Canadian jazz artist Serafin LaRiviere has returned with a brand new album titled “Unravel“, released on February 5th 2021.
The first single from Unravel is a slow, intimate version of the 1980s Pop classic Take On Me, from the band Ah-ha. Where the original is up-tempo and exhilarating, Serafin’s offering features just voice and piano. It’s quiet, pensive and heart-breaking. Serafin recently released a video for the song, racking up over 23,000 views in just a few short weeks.
With Serafin’s five octave range and incredible, gender defiant tone, it’s no wonder Stuart Broomer from Toronto Life referred to the artist as “one of the most distinctive voices in the country, an emotionally loaded and tremolo-laden alto that’s pitched at the edge of gender identity”. A fixture in the Canadian jazz music scene, the artist has had features in the National Post, the Vancouver Province, and on Jazz FM. Serafin’s first two albums charted in the top ten on Canadian campus radio, one of which was the subject of a BravoFact documentary.
Take On Me was an instant hit for the band A-Ha in 1985. Accompanied by a surreal cutting-edge video and bouncy synth-pop beat, singer Morten Harket’s pure tenor voice hit high notes that many male singers can only dream of. For Canadian Jazz singer Serafin LaRiviere, it was a perfect fit for their new Jazz/Pop album Unravel.
Serafin begins in hushed tones, making a last-ditch plea to a hesitant lover. As the tension builds, Serafin’s voice aches with emotion until it reaches a crescendo of heartbreak and resolution. The result is haunting and powerful.
Unravel is an album that moves through several genres. Classic Torch songs like Cry Me a River and I Put a Spell on You are given an electronic kiss, while original songs like It’s You and I Couldn’t Be Your Girl have elements of Pop, Funk, Soul and even Country. The track Good Boy is the most personal for the artist – a musical celebration about their son, honouring “all the wonderful, complicated things that make him such a great kid”.
“I always saw the lyrics as the perfect torch song,” Serafin says. “There’s such a sense of love and longing in the words, and I wanted to try to reinterpret that in a way that was respectful to the amazing original version.”