Hayley Roder, Staff Writer

In pure singer-songwriter fashion, Rob Rider offers a heartfelt mix of lyrics and melodies on his debut solo album An Ounce of Dreams and Guitar Strings.

Hailing from Woodbridge, Va., Rider has performed in local bands like Ground Zero and Nebula while perfecting his songwriting. His experience, coupled with years of both formal and informal music training has resulted in a solo album that fits perfectly into the alternative rock genre.

Rider’s lyrics feel genuine and seem to be inspired by real-life events, a quality often overlooked by songwriters.

This makes his songs both catchy and easy to identify with. “Fall On Me” is full of such lyrics: “There’s nothing I can say or do/These long miles lead me back to you” and “Life’s a puzzle, it’s a game/Put the pieces in their place, and then we’ll see/Let your love fall down on me.”

Though a few lines are cliché, such as those found in “Rain,” others extend fantastic similes and metaphors such as the lines of “Breathe” that read, “Shoots like lightning through my veins/Every time I hear your name” and “Sounds of thunder, they roll through my head/Every time I hear words that you’ve said.”

The composition of the album feels carefully constructed, with smooth transitions between the songs. In particular, “Fall on Me” fades perfectly into “Thyme.”

Rider combines both upbeat songs and rock-style ballads to tell his stories and to engage his listeners.

His vocals and guitar melodies are comparable to  artists like Duncan Sheik and Mike Doughty.

Both his sound and his lyrics are wonderfully reminiscent of ’90s alternative rock bands such as Counting Crows and Gin Blossoms.

In the thank-you section of the booklet, Rider writes, “It is within the smiles, sweat, and tears which gives me inspiration. I hope these songs will find a home in everyone’s heart . . . I welcome you and thank you for lending an ear.”

After spending the past week immersed in the album, it is without hesitation that I recommend it to anyone looking for an artist who offers songs that are well-written, expressive and most importantly, completely authentic.

For more information on Rider, including information on his new record and tour dates, visit http://www.robrider.net.