“Carla Ryder is getting more serious now with her songwriting. Her new material shows impressive depth and flashes a stunning poignancy at times (witness new song “Yellow Curtains”). I can’t wait to hear more of what she comes up with."-- Steve Morse, former staff music critic at the Boston Globe for 28 years who now teaches the online Rock History course for Berklee College of Music” - Steve Morse

— Staff: Berklee College of Music

This girl can tear it up!" That's what you'll say after listening to the latest release by Carla Ryder. The record kicks off with "House of Yesterday." "The world won't wait for you," Ryder warns in her pop-oriented chorus. "Three Mondays Gone" is another well-crafted tune, with layers of electric guitars and background vocals providing a wall of sound to accompany the catchy chorus. "Gettysburg" is a high-energy folk tune about family ties, "Ex-Patriot's Song" is a mid-tempo political rocker and "Take it Away" is a country-flavored ditty with rhythmic acoustic guitar and a sing-along refrain. File Ryder between Sheryl Crow and the Pretenders, but don't miss out on Til the End of Counting.” - Mare Wakefield

— Performing Songwriter Magazine, June 2007

In the daytime, she's a speech therapist for the Boston public schools. At night, she's an aspiring rock singer who seems to get better with each appearance. Carla Ryder is almost too versatile to categorize, but she has fun trying. ''I just tell people that I play in a rock band that dabbles in pop, folk, and country," says Ryder, who is remarkably free of attitude. ''A fan gave me the best description by saying, 'You are Joni Mitchell kidnapped by Joan Jett.' " Whatever one might call her, Ryder is rising through the ranks. The Braintree native started out singing in the popular cover band the Mudhens (''We'd do obscure covers from the Go-Go's to Led Zeppelin") but is now turning out original material at a fairly prolific pace. She has released two solo records -- ''Pulling Down Sky" and ''Acoustic & Live" -- and just issued her first CD with the Carla Ryder Band. It's called ''Til the End of Counting" and is produced by the increasingly hot Adam Steinberg, who has worked with Amy Fairchild, the Dixie Chicks, and Katie Terrio. It's a highly intelligent record, and Ryder's songs pull from literature (Larry McMurtry's ''Lonesome Dove" inspires one track), from politics (''Ex-Patriot's Song" is based on America's sometimes misguided foreign policies), and even from her observation of children at the Mattahunt Elementary School in Mattapan, where she is based by day. That particular track is ''Just About Nothing," which is about handling fear. ''I wrote it during a lunch break at school," Ryder says. ''I have a coveted room with a window, and I was looking down at all the little girls doing their steps and their jump-roping, and they were all so fearless. They're so resilient, and I thought, 'Why do we get so afraid when we grow up?' " As a performer, Ryder appears to have no fear herself. A bubbly extrovert, she is performing a Tuesday residency this month at the Lizard Lounge (the ''Soul Low" series from 7:30-8:30 p.m.). She'll finish it next week, and it's hard to imagine the finale being any better than this past Tuesday, when she captivated a crowded house with her literate originals and romping covers of Creedence Clearwater Revival's ''Lodi" and the Rolling Stones' ''Dear Doctor." Her six-piece band adds to the appeal. Backup singer Tara Cojerian could be a star in her own right, while guitarist Jon Metters, bassist Scott Bressler, drummer Ian MacMillan, and keyboardist Dave Weiser (the newest member) all have undeniable charisma. ''We're at such a zenith with this band," Ryder says. ''Personally and musically, we're at a great spot. And they're all my best friends.” - Steve Morse

The Boston Globe

CARLA RYDER '91 MAKES A BIG NOISE AT CLUB PASSIM Believe it or not, a singer-songwriter on the rise can't ask for a better backdrop than an underground café in Cambridge, MA. The likes of Bob Dylan and Tracy Chapman polished their stagecraft at the world famous, Club Passim. It continues to hold tight to its position as New England's epicenter of roots music through the ebb and flow of the genre's popularity. With special guests Vanessa Trien, Babson College alumna Carla Ryder turned up the heat on August 13 for one of Club Passim's best shows in recent memory. Vanessa Trien displayed an instantly accessible acoustic-pop style. Lyrically, her songs were poetic with imagery that endured long into the next song. Fans, at first restrained, soon were singing along and singing Trien's praises between songs. After ending Trien's set together, Carla Ryder took over the pole position. She did so flanked by one of the best backing bands in New England. Scott Bressler on bass and, Jon Metters on acoustic guitar were aided by vocalist Tara Cojerian in their support of Ryder's set. The Turning", a track from the "Pulling Down the Sky" CD, was an early highlight. Ryder's catchy hooks and breathtaking vocals were in top form. Between songs, Metters and Bressler's off the cuff banter with Ryder was almost as entertaining as the music. The chemistry of these performers has made a great local artist event better. Midway through the set, Venessa Trein joined the crowded stage for another sing along. Nevada", her contribution to Boston's Best singer-songwriter compilation CD, ended the night on the right note. Soon, fans crowded the budding star. Watching Carla on stage and amid her fans, it occurred to me more than once that this was not the typical workday of Babson alumni. Though her career path is not typical, her accomplishments, which include national tours and opening for Bob Dylan, are no less remarkable. A CD headed by producer Adam Steinberg (Dixie Chicks, Sheryl Crow) is on the ever brightening horizon of Babson's very own acoustic hero.” - Pat Keating

— Babson Business Journal

A blizzard of random thoughts Carla Ryder: Watching this charismatic young rocker captivate a crowd as she plays ''Spinning to Crazy,'' you know she's destined for big things.” - Scott Lehigh

— The Boston Globe

Caught in the Act The Carla Ryder Band from Boston took the stage next, oozing folk-flavored groove right from the opening chords from guitarist Jon Metters' hollow-body Gibson. Carla's bluesy tenor voice, a sort of cross between Natalie Merchant and Alannah Myles, led the way through a solid set of eclectic original material from her "Pulling Down Sky" and "Acoustic & Live" CDs. New to the group, drummer Aaron Jackson proved his mettle well, locking with bassist Scott Bressler to bring the only dancers of the evening to their feet. The kid can play. An enthusiastic cover of "When Will I Be Loved" was a crowd-pleaser, some dubious vocal harmonies notwithstanding. Unfortunately, the only way to catch her wonderful power-funk arrangement of "Guy's Night Out" is to catch Carla live--this track isn't on either of her solo discs. Carla is steadily gaining national recognition with her insightful lyrics and solid solo performances. Looks like her decision to leave the Mudhens was the right one.” - Robert Bryant

— Face Magazine (Portland, ME)

CARLA RYDER, ACOUSTIC AND LIVE (CD) On her latest CD, singer-songwriter Carla Ryder offers up a 13-song set of cheery and introspective well-crafted tunes. Backed by musicians on bass, guitar and vocals, Ryder delivers the goods, providing memorable melodies and catchy choruses that manage to stay in the head for days. For a live recording, the sound quality is crisp--though obviously taken from the soundboard--and the energy and joy of live performance shines through in both the songs and the between-song banter. Lyrically there's a little bit of cleverness, as in the infectious "Spinning To Crazy": "The more things change the more they stay insane." But for the most part the words are not so much clever as well phrased and thoughtfully crafted. The highlights here come in songs about relating and relationships, like the poignant and sweet closer, "What I Have"--which almost made this reviewer cry. "East Coast Thing" is a sassy take on intuition and working on relationships, while "Please Don't Go" delves into the tail end of a destructive and abusive coupling. Ryder's stories are fleshed out with a minimum of strokes and convey emotion through melodic and instrumental choices. As a guitar player, Ryder is more of a strummer and picker, but her chord progressions often take interesting and unexpected turns. She shines vocally, swinging for the bleachers at one moment and almost whispering the next. When Ryder harmonizes with her backing vocalist, the effect is a little Indigo Girls-meets-Ani Difranco. "Nevada", "The Turning" and "Matter of Time" feature bright and catchy choruses. I have woken up humming them before I can figure out what they are. Even the less-memorable songs have a good deal of charm, and that's a rare thing. Overall, Acoustic & Live is a good introduction to Carla Ryder. So will be her shows at Burlington this week--Friday at Radio Bean and Saturday at 135 Pearl.” - Colin Clary

— Seven Days (Burlington, VT)

RYDER IS BRAINTREE'S RENAISSANCE WOMAN As if Carla Ryder's dual careers as speech therapist and budding folk-rock star weren't enough, she's developed a third role: soccer-poetry coach. Braintree's Renaissance woman will be in her musical mode Saturday night when she performs at the Festival of Women Songwriters at the Somerville Theater. Ryder expects to go on stage about 10 p.m., and the all-star lineup also includes Colleen Sexton, Rachel Davis, Jenny Reynolds and Dianne Ziegler. But getting back to that fascinating poetic soccer gig, it developed out of Ryder's day job as speech therapist and reading teacher in the Boston school system. Last fall she became involved in as a volunteer for third- to fifth-grade girls in an afterschool program, which offers two days a week of poetry and songwriting, alternating with two days of soccer games. I know almost nothing about soccer`" Ryder said, laughing, "so those days I just try to stay on the sidelines, and be supportive but out of the way." When the girls work on their poetry, though, Ryder feels right at home. "I'm trying to help the kids discover the joys of creative writing. We do poetry and also try some songwriting," she said. The school system had a citywide poetry slam, and we competed in that. My team of girls choreographed a poem all about how it felt to score the game-winning goal in your soccer game. We found there is a certain synergy between music, poetry and soccer." Ryder's music career is cruising along nicely too, as this Saturday's gig will be followed by a headlining show next Saturday at New York City's famous Bitter End nightclub. Longtime fans know that Ryder was the lead singer of the rock quintet The Mud Hens for six years, before leaving to establish her solo career in 2000. Her solo debut CD, "Pulling Down Sky,'" made many best-of-the-year lists, taking her delightfully quirky cinematic lyrics and the rock/folk/Celtic/country sounds of her Mud Hens years and redeploying them in simpler settings. Last year Ryder released "Carla Ryder Acoustic and Live," a collection of live and studio performances. It is available only at shows, or online at CDBaby.com, or at Ryder's web site (www.carlaryder.com). The good news is that she has plenty of new material for her next album, but the not-so-good news is that it probably won't be released until November. Her tasks keep her schedule full, and this summer she has wedding plans, too. I am fortunate to have afternoons and school vacations free to write, play and promote my music," Ryder said. "But this summer will be pretty busy. I'm marrying Chris Roussin, who fronts his rock band, The Quick Ones (who have a headlining gig April 5 at The Kendall Cafe in Cambridge)." Ryder books a full slate of shows during February school vacation week. In September she'll begin recording her next album. "We're in pre-production now, fine-tuning the songs in concert, and checking out producers and studios," she said. Ryder's solo act became an almost instant hit on the coffeehouse circuit, her observational style offered a breath of fresh air on the folkie circuit, and her various formats - solo to quintet - were adaptable to any size room. The amazing thing is that Ryder's music still rocks as hard as it ever did, even in acoustic duo settings. Her lineup of bandmates includes bassist Scott Bressler, guitarist Jon Metters, backup vocalist Tara Cojerian, either Jim McGathey or Billy Beard on drums, Quincy's Jim Gambino on keyboards, and Swinging Steak Steve Sadler on mandolin, dobro and assorted instruments. In the duet setting, Bressler is her most likely cohort; the others shift in and out as the occasion demands. Every show is different," Ryder said. Depending on the venue, I can go folkie or total rocker." The new Ryder material still has that trademark sound of intelligent writing set over syncopated rhythms, and music with a surprise in every chorus. I'd like to say the new music is more rockin' but some it is more folk, too," Ryder said. "I guess I'm sort of splitting it down the middle. There's no easy way to pigeonhole my new songwriting." As she looks back on her first two years as a solo act, Ryder feels her dual careers are going just fine. She is energized by working with the children in school, and her music career is thriving I couldn't be happier in the way my band has developed and help me define my style," Ryder said. "I've had the same group working with me all two years, and I know I'm really blessed to have them. I'm really proud of them and what we've accomplished." Now if someone can just explain a penalty kick to her....” - Jay Miller

— The Patriot Ledger

Artist: Carla Ryder CD: Acoustic & Live Home: Boston, Massachusetts Style: Singer-Songwriter Quote: "Her latest performance confirms that she's one of the hottest female vocalists on the East Coast." By: Erik Deckers (here's the direct link to indiemusic.com review) Intro/general thoughts: She's back, she's back, she's back! Carla Ryder is back, acoustic and live, on her latest CD, "Acoustic & Live." And with more of the same great music that made her a fan favorite, both with the Mudhens and on her last solo CD, "Pulling Down Sky," Ryder deftly avoids the sophomore slump that afflicts so many other artists. >From beginning to end, Ryder up and down the musical continuum, playing anything from folk to rock to pop to a Latin-influenced song. Each song, replete with Ryder's sweet vocals, is equal to every other song in its quality and craftsmanship (craftswomanship?). Highs: Definitely "The Turning." This song is one that fits one of those sad-but-happy moments of a person's past, and is made to be on your life's soundtrack. Outstanding performance: It's Carla's album, it's Carla's music, so the outstanding performance is, what else, Carla's voice. Although she's got some excellent musicians backing her up, Carla's vocals are the best instrument on the whole album. Her latest performance confirms that she's one of the hottest female vocalists on the East Coast. Lows: Three of the four secret tracks at the end of the album are the movie equivalent of outtakes and snappy band banter. While it was cute, it detracts from the rest of the album for those of us who like to set a CD to "Repeat All" and listen to it over and over. Fans: If you like Carla Ulbrich, Robin Pearl, or Jill Dawson (all reviewed here on Indie-Music.com) , then Carla Ryder is someone you don't want to miss. Foes: If you expect your singers to sound like Tom Waits, Buster Poindexter, or Kim Carnes, you won't like Ryder's strong, soaring, and crystal clear voice. Summary: You can tell your friends what it's like to be in love, drive on the Autobahn, or drink a really fine bottle of wine, but they'll never really know what you're talking about until they experience it for themselves. That's the quandary I'm in now in trying to explain how great "Acoustic & Live" is. I can't properly tell you how great this album is, you just have to hear it for yourself. Visit Carla's website and get it.” - Erik Deckers

— Indie-Music.com

As year 2000 creeps to a close, it's time to recap some of the year's best music. Bear in mind we don't see hear or know it all, so this list is subjective and based on the shows we did get to attend and the CD's that struck us as outstanding. BEST CONCERTS: Carlos Santana, Great Woods, August 1 Steve Earle and the Dukes, Avalon and Lupo's, July Dick Dale, the Middle East, May The Reverend Horton Heat, Lupos and Avalon, May 4 and 6 Matchbox 20, Avalon, June 6 Joan Osborne, Avalon, October 3 Martina McBride, South Shore Music Circus, July 9 City of President's Blues Fest, June 25 Peter Green, The Roxy, Sept 6 Reba McEntire, Great Woods, August 26 Carla Ryder, The Beachcomber, February 3 Jerry Jeff Walker, The Roxy, June 14 Guy Clark, Blackthorne Tavern, October 15 Beachcomber, February ?: I'm not sure of the date, but it was a Thursday when I decided to check out the solo show of the then-Mudhens lead singer. There were perhaps a dozen people present for the late set, but Ryder in a duo setting uncorked one of the most arresting sets we've heard. Her solo shows bring all the lyrical depth and quirkiness of here work with the rock band, but with added warmth and more focus on her voice. I was wary when she announced she was ending her show with a Patsy Cline cover but after she'd belted it out with rock n' roll passion and a soaring vocal range we never heard in the Mudhens, I was floored. The Braintree songwriter has had a busy year establishing her solo career, but on that night it was obvious she was going to make it happen.” - Jay Miller

— The Patriot Ledger