Meaghan Smith – Have A Heart

Meaghan Smith - Have A Heart

Cover for the new Meaghan Smith record Have A Heart

It used to be considered risky when established pop stars ventured away from easy pop music incorporating other genres for the sake of artistic credibility. It’s probably even riskier when an already-established artist makes the move toward straight-up pop.

Meaghan Smith put aside the retro influenced jazz pop for the drastically different Have A Heart, the first single released in February from her album of the same name. The single incorporates a thumping beat, catchy hook and pop-centric production, but to those who may have been turned off by those qualities, it’s made up of irresistible rhyming couplets that make it hard to dislike.

“When a heart’s in love like mine is/it should be at its finest”, the song opens before revealing that not all is well. “Cause you could be a shoo-in/for something almost human/if you had a heart.” The song is cutesy but it’s too sweet to dismiss.

It sets the stage for an album that maintains the same level of charm throughout. Even as the pop-oriented tracks fade into Meaghan’s signature style of vintage whimsicality, she continues to deliver strong hooks that propel the record from just another album by just another songstress. This one is special.

And it’s not that big a shift in sound for the singer, who continues to allow the sound of classics to penetrates her music, which was always pop-focused. While the first three tracks are present-day pop gems with strong hooks and sing-along melodies, Friends Like You is the first to reintroduce signs of the old-style recording style of Meaghan’s first major-label album The Cricket’s Orchestra, fused with its bouncy pop chorus.

You Don’t Wanna Love Me continues the transition into the past with a flirtatious backdrop as she tantalizes her would-be lover singing “you can’t cheat a cheat/you can’t lie to a liar/you can’t steal from a thief/trust me/you don’t wanna love me”

The Moon Makes A Fool Of Me returns us to the jazz roots of The Cricket’s Orchestra while Sucks To Be You is 60s Motown filtered through the lens of bouncy modern pop. Je T’aime is dreamy coated with harp sounds and swelling strings that accompany a scene reminiscent of midnight romance. Like most of the record, it paints a picture to go along with the song.

Have A Heart is a pleasant record that plays both sides of the fence with her introduction into airplay on pop radio but also sticks with the sound that helped earn her the 2011 Juno Award for Best New Artist and a permanent place on holiday playlists every December. It’s easy to criticize a singer for shifting toward the mainstream but it’s commendable when one does it without losing touch of their roots. It’s win/win. Have a heart!
Four stars

1. Have A Heart
2. Mirror
3. Friends Like You
4. You Don’t Wanna Love Me
5. The Moon Makes A Fool Of Me
6. Sucks To Be You
7. Je T’aime
8. Get You Back
9. Can Of Worms
10. Somebody
11. Mirror [Acoustic Version]

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