Jan. 30, 2013 - Issue #902: Come cry with Daniel Romano
Emm Gryner finds solo inspiration in a new trio
Poetic, powerful and able to make the keys of a piano sing, Emm Gryner has collaborated with and earned high praise from some of the industry's biggest heavyweights, all the while remaining decisively independent and staying true to her own sound.
Fifteen years in the biz and 10 albums to her credit, Gryner has lent her talents to David Bowie's backing band, teamed up with Hot One, and had Bono name her song "Almighty Love" as one he wishes he'd written during an interview with Q Magazine. Highlights of this accomplished career were wrapped up into one package with the release of The Best Of Emm Gryner, last fall, and Gryner views the disc as the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next.
This new chapter includes joining forces with Dayna Manning and Laura C Bates in the folk-country trio Trent Severn, a stylistic departure from Gryner's piano-driven, indie solo material. Opposite or not, Trent Severn is among her inspirations as she works on her next solo album, which she says is due out sometime this fall.
"This year, I've learned a lot from the band, actually. I just saw how much energy our band shows have and I kind of wanted to bring that to my solo career," she explains over the phone. "It's very odd that the band is now kind of inspiring me, not that I'm going to go country-roots with my own material, but it's telling when your children like your band and don't like your solo material."
Being a solo artist, Gryner admits, can be a lonely responsibility. It's up to you to answer for everything, but with two more people added to the lineup, it becomes a collaborative effort, with duties shared and a new wealth of creativity itching to be unleashed.
"I feel very seasoned as a solo artist, y'know? I know how to pace my show, I know what I'm going to say between songs and I know how to handle kind of anything. With a band there's a little bit of stepping back and your identity is so different because, again, it's not you: you're a unit. It's fun, but it's definitely taking some getting used to for sure. I feel like I'm 14 again," she chuckles, adding the writing process as a trio has allowed her to stand back and let things evolve as a unit as well. "Dayna will take something I've done and change the guitar part entirely, and whereas my 21-year-old self would have been like, "Oh, no. I want to do it my way,' I'm just happy to have that input."
Trent Severn gains its namesake from the iconic waterway in Ontario, and, in Gryner's opinion, it always seemed like a good name for a country singer. The group pushes aside the go-to lyrics of emotional turmoil in favour of stories brimming with Canadiana, acknowledging the people and places that make up the land they call home.
"What we found when we released the album, which was a great surprise, people feel the same way we do about these stories," Gryner acknowledges. "I think it's refreshing for people to hear songs about things that they know about that don't have to deal with emotional upheaval or anything."
Each member of the trio comes with an established career in their own right and the goal is not to chase labels or conquer the United States. Instead, Gryner says it's a project she wants to see cross the vast Canadian landscape numerous times, playing well into their senior citizen days.
"I saw this band as being something that could be very entertaining for people even when we're like 50, 60, 70, if we can still stand up," she states. "If not, we'll play sitting down."
Sat, Feb 2 (7:30 pm)
With Jeremy Fisher
Arden Theatre, sold out
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