Emm Gryner Science Fair

Despite the independent bedroom feel of her debut, The Original Leap Year, Emm Gryner was never a poster child for sparse, lo-fi pop. For her third recording in three years, she’s flipped back to independent home recording, after the glossy sheen of last year’s major label debut, Public, but she’s still on a slick pop path and continues to paint on an ambitious musical canvas — this collection of portable eight-track tunes simply reflects abilities honed by a couple of years training as a recording engineer. Recalling such unhip icons as Fleetwood Mac and Carole King, as well as more contemporary sounds of Sarah McLachlan, Science Fair sees Gryner on the verge of a breakthrough, in terms of developing her own voice. Her pen remains sharp, lyrically, while her musical ambitions point her in unconventional directions such as the harpsichord, and the “favourite” piano she had to sneak into U of T to record on “Revenge.” Along with Sarah Slean, another Toronto piano-playing compatriot who combines classical elements with personal lyrics, and just returned to indie land after a major label album, Gryner still has some learning to do, but keeps getting better each time out. (Dead Daisy)