The last time we heard from singer-songwriter Meiko, she was touring the world in support of 2012's The Bright Side, a buoyant, optimistic record awash in the early phases of love. TV shows and commercials across the globe featured the album's songs, and "Stuck on You" even became a No. 1 radio hit in Japan. Years after launching her songwriting career in the coffeehouses of Los Angeles, Meiko had officially found international recognition.
Her secret affinity for penning unsent letters to the various souls who have penetrated her life inspired her third studio album (and second for Fantasy/Concord) entitled Dear You; a decidedly deeper, darker record about the things that happen once a relationship's honeymoon phase crashes to a halt. There's heartbreak, betrayal, and longing enveloped in 11 new songs that mix Meiko's voice—breathy and intimate—with electronic folk-pop, drum loops, acoustic guitars, keyboards and indelible melodies.
"I like writing letters: love letters, pissed-off letters, breakup letters," she explains. "Call me passive-aggressive, but it's easier to write someone a letter than actually confront them in person. I rarely wind up mailing those letters, though. Instead, I turn them into songs. Dear You is an album mostly filled with those unsent notes."
Meiko turned to producer Jimmy Messer, who also helmed a good chunk of The Bright Side, to help create Dear You’s sophisticated, stripped down sound. Together, the two recorded most of the songs without outside help, only turning to musicians Don Heffington (Bob Dylan, Sheryl Crow) and the Grooveline Horns (Jason Mraz, Dave Matthews Band) for key cameos on a handful of tracks. The goal was to keep things simple, highlighting the album’s intimacy without adding too many bells and whistles. At Meiko's request, though, Messer did sprinkle some synthesizers and electronic percussion into the mix; drawing a bridge between Meiko's acoustic songwriting and her lifelong appreciation for electronic pioneers like Portishead.
"I'd play each song on my acoustic guitar," Meiko remembers, "and then Jimmy and I would build it from there. We'd figure out the right tempo, play around with beats and layer some instruments… We even added a reggaeton beat to ‘Sittin' Here,’ which was the result of me driving over to Jimmy's studio, getting caught in traffic, and flipping through songs on the Latin stations. Dear You was like our little art project."
Meiko's artistic ambitions date back to 2007, when she began landing shows at the Hotel Cafe, the unofficial headquarters of young, up-and-coming songwriters on the West Coast. Things moved quickly from there. She signed with MySpace Records, reissued her self-titled debut record in 2008, and scored a hit on Triple A radio with "Boys with Girlfriends." Pop, folk, and rock fans loved her; so did music supervisors, who placed Meiko's songs in episodes of Grey's Anatomy, One Tree Hill, and other prime-time TV shows. After signing with Concord Records in 2011, she released The Bright Side, which climbed to No. 1 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter Albums chart. Meiko hit the road again, selling out concerts from Los Angeles to Tokyo.
Now, following seven years of writing, performing, traveling and learning, Meiko is ready to release her most accomplished album to date. Taking hold of her secret letters, she turns them into sweet ‘n sour alt-pop ("Be Mine"), electronic lullabies ("The Cloud Song"), minimalist indie rock ("Deep Sweat"), and digital folk ("Wake Up").
Dear You is a breakup album that's easy to fall in love with.