Broken hearts don’t stay broken for long on Meredith Shaw’s debut pop album, Place Called Happy, and life’s low points are quickly turned around. “It’s a positive album, but not goofy positive,” assures the Toronto singer-songwriter. “There’s an exploration of happiness on the record, which is why I called it Place Called Happy.”
Produced by Gordie Johnson (Big Sugar, Grady) at Willie Nelson’s Pedernales studio in Spicewood, Texas, near Austin, the 10-song album flips from emotion to emotion within stylistic variations of pop music that take a cheeky Lily Allen approach to the power vocals of Adele.
From “Joey,” a playful, riffy number that confidently gives the boot to a bad boy to the country-tinged “King of the Road” about that very same guy, to the coy naughty pop of “Acted Badly,” about waking up beside a stranger and thinking “Oh God,” Meredith infuses tons of personality into a genre that’s often devoid of it.
Meredith — an on-air personality at Toronto radio station Boom 97.3, who also has an illustrated product line called muffymade (greeting cards to chocolate) — is an entrepreneurial young woman, who doesn’t want to create anything run of the mill. A former finalist on both the pre-Idol TV show Popstars: The One, and Canadian Idol season 2, she wanted to stay in the pop world, but have a maturity in her sound, while still infusing the sense of fun that has made Katy Perry such a smash. “I started sending Gordie songs that I really loved — by Adele, Lissie, KT Tunstall — as well as by Cyndi Lauper. I love her energy,” says Meredith.
What she didn’t imagine was that “the dusty Austin” vibe would happily seep into the songs while she was recording down there and give the music a stamp she never would’ve got in Toronto. “We’d go out for dinner in Austin and there was a mariachi trumpet band playing and we were like, ‘We should put trumpets on there,’” Meredith recalls. “We would go back to the studio and get some trumpets on it. That was on a song called ‘Little Fishy.’”
That song — about that certain little fish who always comes back — was from the second batch of songs Meredith recorded with Gordie in August. The first was in January 2010. That session yielded five songs — “Joey,” “Girls Who Believe,” “Stars,” “Acted Badly” and “Happy” — enough for an EP. But the creative flow was going so well with her main co-writer Patrick Ballantyne (Gordie’s long-time collaborator; she also wrote with Gordie and has publishing on the new Big Sugar album) that they kept at it and soon had enough songs to complete a full album, including the seductive “So Good” and achin’ “Breakin.”
“There’s a sense of confidence that comes from doing something in a space where you’ve done it before and also with people that you now know you produce good things with, so we experimented a little more the second time around,” says Meredith.
Since then, Meredith has put together a live band – The Hearts Club Band - and has performed at CMW, NXNE, Indie Week, Nashville’s famed Bluebird Cafe, as well as dates in Los Angeles and New York.
The album’s closing track, “Girls Who Believe,” — written about her strong group of girlfriends that she’s had since childhood — has spawned a reaction from people who deal with youth. The song was placed in an episode of the hit TV show Degrassi: The Next Generation, and she has been invited to speak at schools. Shaw is currently on tour across Canada with Big Sugar and is the cowriter of the band’s new single, Little Bit A Alright.
For more information, contact Diane Foy at Skylar Entertainment