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Self-proclaimed “demented pop” chanteuse Eddy Lee Ryder makes her long-awaited full-length debut with ‘SWEET DELUSIONS’ synthesizing timeless songcraft, dramatic introspection, and infinite pop smarts to create a breathtaking song cycle of apocalyptic romance and anxious regret, badly broken hearts, and wishful hope for the future. Songs like “Highwaymen” and the deceptively optimistic title track see Ryder – known to friends and family as Woodstock, NY-based singer-songwriter Liz Brennan – fusing chanson and country, indie and standards, into her own strain of modernist pop Americana, all informed by her distinctively wry sense of humor and classic rock spirit. That creative capriciousness resonates throughout the album, Ryder’s witty but deeply reflective songwriting offering up keenly detailed snapshots of secret intimacies, small cruelties, and a relationship gone horribly south. Quirky and charming while still precise and powerfully personal, ‘SWEET DELUSIONS’ reveals Eddy Lee Ryder as a one-of-a-kind new artist, her unabashed heartache and beguiling humor completely her own yet as identifiable and real as any of our own. “I want my music to carry multiple emotions, just like every experience,” Ryder says. “Nostalgia, absurdity, humor, and sorrow.” Having earned applause for her sadly beautiful portraits of love and life on the margins, with songs like “Smoke and Mirrors” featured in the cult hit horror film Terrifier 2, Ryder set to work on her long-brewing debut album in 2022. Though her plan was to record with producer Dave Cerminara (Father John Misty, Weyes Blood) at his studio in Los Angeles, at the last moment, her beloved 20-year-old cat was diagnosed with a rare form of feline cancer, prompting Cerminara to instead join her at the Outlier Inn, a “small charming studio” on a bucolic 12-acre property in New York’s southern Catskill Mountains. “What we weren’t anticipating was the entire town being closed while we were there,” Ryder says. “We found one restaurant that doubled as Bingo Night and a sauna. There was a grocery store down the street that sold a pepper, rice, and a tomato, and I can’t tell you our excitement to find three items of food that went together.” Ryder eventually made it to Los Angeles for a second round of recording with Cerminara in 2023. Both sessions saw her armed with a cache of songs inspired by “an extremely bad ending with someone who was my best friend. I didn’t even know it was possible to have that bad of an ending.” “We were so drawn to each other,” she says. “My gut feeling was this was going to end in absolute disaster but I couldn’t help but go full force into that disaster. I kept picturing us driving off a cliff like Thelma and Louise, going down in adventure, having a good run, but ultimately it was going to be me on my own, back on the open road.” Compounded by quarantine, Ryder’s existential turmoil forced her to write from the heart rather than the head, arriving at the sweet spot between those two aspects of her self-described “eccentric” persona, often while strumming her acoustic guitar among friends and multiple bottles of wine. “It’s a wasted opportunity,” she says, “if you have had that level of an experience, that kind of emotional odyssey, and nothing comes out of it.” Once Ryder hit the studio, her apocalyptic romanticism naturally led to the album’s “accidental country” sound, a rhinestone-flecked bed of twangy guitars, languid bass, and irresistible melodies created with accompaniment from longtime Father John Misty drummer/musical director Dan Bailey, multi-instrumentalist Daniel Chae (Zach Bryan, Kacey Musgraves), and keyboardists Todd Caldwell (Crosby, Stills & Nash, James Taylor) and Dave Shephard, along with harmonies and other help from NYC friends like Rebecca Haviland and pianist Abby Payne. “Once we acknowledged, ‘Okay, this is a breakup album,’ it all went a little bit country,” Ryder says, “because that's what a bad breakup does to you. You end up a little bit country.” Penned and performed with uncommon brio and invention, ‘SWEET DELUSIONS’ sees Ryder musing on lust, longing, and lost love across shimmering choruses and a vertiginous undercurrent of contemplative melancholy, turning her raw pain into expertly wrought anthems that simultaneously hearken back to both truck stop jukeboxes and glittering art deco cafés. From “Bad Decisions” (both the oldest song on the album as well as the last to be completed) to the intensely cathartic “Pennyroyal Tea” (“This is the one song I’m hesitant to share. I had a strong need to tell the story while still leaving it vague.”), Ryder has crafted a strikingly dynamic collection of incisive character studies, each one conversational, aching, and fraught with palpable emotion. “Sweet Delusions” is “for anyone holding on for way too long and expecting an unrealistic outcome. This song started about one person and finished about another person, which shows endings can be doomed in so many ways but the delusional trajectory is all the same,” while the album-closing “County Fair” – with its sneaky lyrical nod to “Tainted Love” – points to Ryder’s increasing potency as both craftswoman and artist. “I showed ‘County Fair’ to Dave while we were recording, and I saw his jaw drop a little,” she says. “He was like, ‘This is the best song you have, the only problem is that it isn’t finished.’ I had sat with it for a year and a half and I had no idea what to say in the bridge. So he sent me outside to finish. I was like, ‘Sure, not gonna happen.’ But I sat down and the lyrics came immediately.” Having put a bow on ‘SWEET DELUSIONS,’ the ceaselessly prolific Ryder is already moving full steam ahead into what’s next, veering off into an array of idiosyncratic projects, including a rock opera about WWIII, a new collection of songs inspired by “70s artists like Heart and Stevie Nicks getting into the 80s,” and perhaps a song cycle chronicling her experiences living in Woodstock. “I like bouncing around through different moods,” she says. “It’s all still in the same wheelhouse, the same sort of storytelling, classic songs that everyone can relate to, put through that same kind of modern, twisted lens.” Despite her love of guise and character, the clear through line that unifies Ryder’s still evolving body of work is her storyteller’s gift for cutting to the quick of her own complex, unconventional nature. Impossible to pigeonhole, with ‘SWEET DELUSIONS,’ Eddy Lee Ryder proudly avoids being fitted into any quickly particular category or genre, her creative adventurousness and tongue-in-cheek humor distinctly and undeniably her own. “I don’t how to not write from a personal perspective,” she says. “How do you sit down and write something that’s only surface?”



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