In today’s over-saturated music market, having a good backstory can sometimes be more of an asset than having good songs. The perfect backstory is exemplified by Jewel, of course: Alaskan native lives in her van while playing gigs in coffee shops and eventually becomes the object of a major-label bidding war. But Jewel not only had a good story, she also had good songs. And boobs. Singer-songwriter Meiko’s story isn’t quite as fascinating (she grew up in a log cabin built by her father in a small town in Georgia—population 808, though I’m sure the figure has changed at least a little since her record label started circulating that factoid—before leaving for L.A., landing two songs on Grey’s Anatomy and scoring a #1 folk album on iTunes), but she is the kind of artist that appeals to both introspective girls and hormonal boys.
Meiko’s self-titled debut has been remixed and re-recorded and features a new track, “Boys with Girlfriends,” a jaunty, clever song that suffers from a slightly too-MOR arrangement but which would sound superior next to adult contemporary tripe like Sarah Bareilles’s “Love Song” and Colbie Caillat’s “Bubbly.” If that sounds like a backhanded compliment, it’s not; based on the rest of the songs on her album, Meiko is far more worthy of the attention. Opening track “Reasons to Fall In Love” features plucky guitars and even pluckier strings and finds the singer pining for a little modern-day chivalry: “Girls need attention and boys need us/So let’s make everybody glad.” The song possesses a romantic simplicity Caillat shoots for but almost always misses.
I admit, Meiko had me at “One day we’ll get outta this shitty apartment,” the opening line from “How Lucky We Are,” but before you dismiss the song as simply a lament on the state of the housing market, note that she also longs for war-free newscasts. Though Meiko’s lyrics aren’t completely novel, there are flashes of keen self-analysis (“I find a little piece of me/Every time we disagree,” she observes on “I’ve Heard It All Before”) and songs like “Said and Done” and “Walk By” prove that the girl knows how to compose a solid hook. The latter offers: “Everything has a reason for it/Everyone has a story, don’t they?” And some, like Meiko, have good songs too.