Meiko – The Bright Side (2012)

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The Bright Side, due May 15, 2012 on Fantasy Records/Concord, certainly lives up to its name with Meiko’s fizzy, almost hallucinogenically blissful opener “Stuck On You.”

We find Meiko, as her second solo release gets underway, falling so effortlessly, so completely ass over teakettle, end over end over end over end, that it’s almost impossible not to feel the wind rushing past your own face. There seems to be no end, no landing point, just the never-ceasing promise of a limitless horizon all around. That’s Meiko’s gift as a song writer, and as a singer — and a similar brand of almost impossibly sun-streaked hopefulness runs through the angular “I’m In Love,” as well.

But, if you remember her debut four years ago, none of that is exactly unexpected. Turns out, there’s much more to Meiko on The Bright Side, as the Roberta, Georgia native pushes herself into ever more interesting places — lyrically and musically.

Elsewhere, we find a whispery sensuality of “When The Doors Close” and “Leave the Lights On,” and a crunchy introspection of “Thinking Too Much” and “Lie To Me.” Meiko’s vocal climbs into a Bjorkian higher range, even while plumbing a remarkable inner strength on “I’m Not Sorry.” She dives, if ever so briefly, into the bottom of brown-bottle regret on “Good Looking Loser.” Then Meiko closes, ever the offbeat songstress, with a shuddering, polyrhythmic moment of introspection on “I Wonder.”

Electro-pop mixologist Styrofoam, who’s handled remixes for the Postal Service and the Submarines, helps keep The Bright Side off balance, too, as Meiko moves with thrilling ease well outside of the cliches associated with ingenue folkies: There are some snappy modern beats, some retro rock, even some R&B.

She took her time, after bursting onto the national scene with a self-released project (later reissued by MySpace Records) that sent “Boys with Girlfriends” to the Top 15 at Triple A radio in 2008. Meiko would soon be approached about song placements on television shows and films like like “Grey’s Anatomy,” “One Tree Hill,” “10 Things I Hate About You,” and others. She then commenced a heavy touring schedule, including a stint with Hanson in Europe, along with stand-alone late-night TV stops on the Conan O’Brien and Carson Daly programs.

What The Bright Side makes clear, however, is that Meiko was busy writing — and busy pushing on the outer edges of her own music. The results, belated but well worth the wait, at once confirm everything you liked about her sweetly conceived debut all of those years ago, even while illustrating that Meiko is simply too interesting to be confined to the death-less confines of one-hit wonderdom.

She’s got a bright side, but a whole lot of other sides, too.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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