Today on CBC Music, we’re streaming the self-titled debut album by Trent Severn. The folk/old-time country trio features singer-songwriter Emm Gryner, Juno-nominated songstress Dayna Manning and violin virtuosa Laura C. Bates. You can stream the entire album on CBC Music until Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Full album stream
Early in the life of this band, Gryner (bass, guitar, vocals), Manning (guitar, banjo, vocals) and Bates (fiddle and vocals) sat down and created a manifesto for Trent Severn. On the top of that list, the outfit aimed to “write songs that touch the hearts and tell the stories of our Canadian friends, neighbours and legends.” The band counts Canadian legends like Joni Mitchell, Stan Rogers, and Spirit of the West among their influences, and it's reflected in their sound and songs.
As a songwriter who is used to drawing inspiration from her love life, Gryner says Trent Severn was a welcome change in focus. “One of the rules we have for this band that’s not in this manifesto is that there are no songs about feelings," she says. "By that, I guess, for myself I’ve been done with writing about love relationships for a while.”
Cancon comes easy to the band. “We have this love affair with Canada,” says Gryner, who shares vocal and songwriting duties on the album. “It’s like being a teenager and stumbling on infatuation; there’s just so much to explore.”
Take one look at the track titles on the album — “Snowy Soul,” “Mulroney Times” and “Blue Nose on a Dime” (which features Joel Plaskett on guitar) — and that infatuation is apparent. One of the most affecting pieces of Canadiana explored on the album comes on the song “Truscott,” the tale involving a miscarriage of justice that led to the wrongful murder conviction of a 14-year-old Ontario boy.
Gryner's passion for her latest project comes through when discussing the time she and Manning performed Trent Severn songs live for the first time. “It was a house concert," she explains. "Dayna and I, we had not found Laura yet.” After performing respective solo sets, Gryner and Manning performed an encore together as Trent Severn.
“Not to put down our own solo work too much, but it was like being in a coma and waking up and just having a huge party," says Gryner. "The Trent Severn songs have an energy that our own solo stuff doesn’t have.”
After working as a solo artist, an experience she describes as “a little on the lonely side,” Gryner is enjoying the experience of being part of something more collaborative. “As an indie solo artist, you think you have to do everything," she says. "Those decisions aren’t always the right ones. Sometimes when you have more people, you just arrive at the right sound for a song, the right guitar part, or the right idea for a T-shirt. I was tired of coming up with everything on my own.”
Gryner says she’s looking forward to starting fresh and winning over new fans. Both she and Manning were signed to major labels, but say they prefer the “anti-industry element” of their new project.
“We were poised and people expected us to sell millions of records … with this band we’re so enthusiastic about it because there aren’t those false expectations ... we’re doing the opposite of everything we did 10–15 years ago, which is feeling great.”
You can stream Trent Severn's new album on CBC Music until Nov. 6.
on Oct 30, 2012