Isabel Fryszberg plays her Heart-strings out

New album, rife with heartache, to debut at November party

There’s a small shoe rack tucked beside the apartment door that’s home to singer-songwriter Isabel Fryszberg’s footwear.

Stylish cowboy boots from a trip a to Texas sit beside the flowery pair of rubber boots that were used in the cleanup of her flooded Creative Works Studio, where she works as an occupational therapist.

The diverse collection of soles is exemplary of the variety of musical influences on Fryszberg’s new album Hearts and Arrows, with her band the Uncommons. The shoes may be for the feet, but her music, a blend of Carole King, the Band, Lucinda Williams and June Carter, is for the heart.

“The album has songs from different times in my life, and from different relationships, but it seems to bring out different music and lyrics,” the Bathurst and Dupont area resident says, taking a moment to sip tea from a mug. “They’re not all necessarily sad, because I also play all kinds of different music and that seems to influence me.”

Hearts and Arrows is Fryszberg’s first solo project. She was a co-founder of the Sisters of Sheynville, a Klezmer-swing sextet that toured nationally and in the U.S. from 2005 to 2011.

The breakup of that band led her to focus on a solo career, which creatively sped up when a personal relationship also broke up in September 2012.

“I don’t want to go into it because it’s personal, but it was a betrayal, and it really triggered me,” she admits.

Fryszberg has been writing music for the past 15 years, mostly during the “intense moments” in her life, and she considers the loss of that long-distance relationship to be one of those catalysts.

The music has always been inside her, she admits, but it wasn’t until she took guitar lessons in 2007 with Steve Briggs that she honed some of her older material. Traditionally, Fryszberg has been a fiddle player.

That was the start of her new band, the Uncommons, which includes Briggs on guitar, Don Kerr on percussion and piano, Dennis Pendrith on bass and Rosalyn Dennett on fiddle.

“I feel so blessed,” she remarks. “I love this band. It’s my dream band.”

Briggs and company helped her rearrange some of her older songs, and worked with her to hash out new pieces like “Something Sacred” and “Nothing Lasts”.

“You have to care about something enough — you have to love it enough — to write about it and come from your experience,” she says, with a deep yearning revealing itself.”

She likens the position of a songwriter to a mirror: “reflecting difficult things in a song … telling truths that you wouldn’t be able to tell that person directly.”

“It has to come from a real place because that’s where the warmth is,” she says. “That’s where the tenderness comes, that’s where the pain is.”

Isabel Fryszberg and the Uncommons are celebrating the launch of Hearts and Arrows, Nov. 12 at Hugh’s Room on Dundas Street West.

And the music should be listened to with heavy hearts — and heavy toe-tapping.

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Posted: Oct 11 2014 12:51 am
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto