Life couldn't be finer for Emm Gryner

FISH GRIWKOWSKY

, Last Updated: 5:38 PM ET

The beautiful are indulged sometimes. Emm Gryner has certainly learned this well in her life. But clever and beautiful, well, watch your back, men. Women like that are dangerous.

This child of 1975 melts the walls at the Sidetrack Cafe tonight.

Sarnia-born and Forest, Ont.-raised, Gryner is a unique snapshot of the modern, an evolving and poppy folksinger with beautifully blended blood and a story that's possibly more interesting than her music.

Before you take offense to that, remember that besides covering Fugazi and Def Leppard on a Juno-nominated disc called Girl Versions, she's appeared on new songs by Rob Zombie and David Bowie, the latter event recorded on her tour as his backup singer. Her stint with Bowie evolved into Gryner being asked back the next year, to play keyboards and clarinet in America. It secured her a place in history, on Bowie at the Beeb's live disc of material almost obscure enough to include his crappy songs from the Labyrinth soundtrack. Thankfully, good taste won out. But know this about Emm: "I wasn't really a fan of his," she says from the road. "I thought Rebel Rebel was by the Stones."

A LEARNING EXPERIENCE

From a recophile purist's point of view, this oversight would be deserving of a fierce lye hosedown. Then again, nerds like that tend to actually need one. And, anyway, you don't stand onstage with the Ultimate Chameleon without absorbing a few things, especially as Bowie was in a reflective mood at the turn of the century when the tours blossomed.

"It was really great, of course. I got to play the fake trumpet on Let's Dance. Whenever we did that song it would give me a really crazy sense of where I was, which is tough to describe. And, of course, there were songs I'd never heard of that I love now."

Gryner especially loved Word on a Wing, a passionate and morose sweeper from Station to Station. Her taste is certified.

"It was just an incredibly influential experience," she says - but the funny thing is, of all the Bowie-riffing and andro-rocking going on now in Ziggy's name, she does no strutting. Gryner obviously managed to take a non-superficial lesson from the nationalistic Briton, namely, 'Go with your urges, doll.' And so ...

Andrew Spice is hidden under a lot of rubble and nonsense on the Internet, but there you can find out that he's a Winnipeg pianist with official accolades from Conservatory Canada. One of his unofficial nods is that Gryner spent some time producing his album, passing on the love.

"You probably wouldn't have heard of him, but he's the most amazing pianist. His music doesn't require a lot of crazy production, it just required some clarity. I cracked the whip," she laughs.

RAN HER OWN LABEL

As a young master of a do-it-yourself career, including running her own label, Gryner would be a good mentor. She's had to endure some lessons, but the comparisons to Sarah McLachlan are drying up and the dead relationship with Universal is nothing compared to the fact that, for fun, she does concerts from people's living rooms sometimes. It feels like art. Where did it come from?

Well, her father was a real-estate broker and chicken aficionado (long story) and her mother a nurse born in the Philippines. "She pretty much left us alone."

Maybe the solitude, then, of being the only girl with two brothers. There is something haunted about Gryner, the hint of a psychic bruise. Maybe it was just a funny day, maybe she could sense I could barely talk to her because of her looks. Probably, though, it's just that she was thinking about something else. We stitch up talking about her fresh album, Asianblue. "It's just a word," she shrugs instead of explaining it. Asian. Blue. Hmm.

"I really feel like I let go, which I'm prone to do when I do it on my own. Just because you can do something doesn't mean that you should, right? I just wanted to make an album that was more empowering, rather than wallowing in mellowness."

There is poetic honesty in her Net journal that night ...

saskatoon is sunny

thunder bay was cavernous

i am now a whiz at the Big Buck Hunting video game

i heard the Globe and Mail (panned) the Toronto show, but in the tradition of a new years resolution, I have opted now not to read any reviews/writeups ... good or bad...

" I do not read the reviews / I am not singing for you"

- Conor Oberst

It's a snapshot of the beautiful singer but it feels lonely, like a bus driving away. May she find what she wants, need what it brings. Does my prayer fit in with her scheme of things?


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