One surprising thread ‘twixt Gossip Girl alumni seems to be the capacity to make semi-decent – if overlooked – music. Taylor Momsen is doing her Pretty Reckless thing, Penn Badgley has Mothxr, and Leighton Meester has had a pretty fair stab at it with Cobra Starship and whatnot. All that’s left is for Chace Crawford and Blake Lively to hook up for a Christmas cover of A Whole New World and we’re sorted.
While we’re waiting for that to happen, let’s talk about Meester and her independently-released Heartstrings. Of course, it’s fated to lie under the shadow of the 1989-shaped juggernaut that’s about to roll through town, but that would be a bit of a shame given that there’s some genuine potential here.
Surprisingly, Heartstrings takes more from a Zooey Deschanel than a Taylor Swift, and it’s actually quite engaging in its simplicity – Sweet and Blue Afternoon, both album highlights, feature Meester as singer-songwriter, dipped in sincerity and conjoined with a straightforward chord progression. But even the more upfront pop attempts are a success: On My Side feels like a radio tune we don’t really hear any more, LA might be the result of giving an entire blues bar a placebo.
The whole affair brings to mind that Keira Knightley character in the recent film Begin Again. Meester’s sound is pretty much there in terms of New York rom-com pop (Good For One Thing is ready to soundtrack an indie film trailer near you), but it occasionally cracks that veneer with properly heartwarming moments. More of that next time, plus a bit more of an edge, and Blair Waldorf can happily be given the x-o-x-o kiss-off once and for all.