Serafin LaRiviere’s new album, Unravel, was born in an idyllic setting of quiet woods, wandering deer and several feet of snow – though it wasn’t planned that way. 

Unravel was meant to mark the 10-year anniversary of Serafin’s third album, Love’s Worst Crime – an event that shortly preceded the adoption of a son. The decade in between had centered more on diapers and schooling than sheet music and microphones (with a sprinkling of gigs in Toronto, Montreal and Quebec). So, 2020 seemed the ideal time to create something new: There were new songs, new arrangements for Jazz standards, and a new digital age to explore, but suddenly the country was in lockdown, isolated from friends and family, hiding out in our homes while something frightening and unknown changed the landscape of our lives.

“I was in the Eastern Townships of Quebec when Covid-19 hit,” Serafin says. “I was quite fortunate, really, though it was terrifically isolating. But I was with my wee family in the middle of nowhere, and blessed with an awful lot of time to figure out what to do with the new album.”

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 of “all the wonderful, complicated things that make him such a great kid”.

Recorded at Number 9 Studios in Toronto, Unravel features a stellar band that includes bass player George Koller (Holly Cole, Laila Biali), horn genius Christopher Plock (Jeff Healy and the Jazz Wizards), pianist Clement Robichaud and Great Bob Scott on drums. It was engineered by Aaron Fund Salem and produced by Juno award-winner Jono Grant.

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 released a video for the song, racking up over 20,000 views in just a few short weeks.

“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.”

Unravel was released in February 2021 on the Arté Boréal record label, in the midst of perhaps the most isolated winter we’ve experienced in our collective lifetimes. But with the hope of a vaccine in sight, Serafin hopes that this new collection of songs will bring a little light into the long nights.

“I just keep telling myself that, even if life feels like it’s unraveling a bit, the day is coming when we’ll be looking back on this time and marveling that we came through it. We don’t need to unravel.”

With a career spanning nearly three decades and a voice that spans five octaves, Serafin has become a household name in Canadian Jazz. The artists’ first two albums charted in the top ten on Canadian campus radio, and his first record was the subject of a BravoFact documentary.

Listen to and purchase Unravel here.

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.