Meredith Brooks’ fans have come to expect the kind of emotional honesty and psychological intimacy found on her new Capitol Records album, Deconstruction. It’s the same directness she put to remarkable effect on her ’97, multi-platinum debut Blurring The Edges, and its global hit, “Bitch,” which garnered Brooks a pair of Grammy nominations and introduced her to the world as a mercurial, in-your-face guitarist/singer/songwriter. Even better, it was a post-feminist anthem that brought to a head the issue of sexual stereotyping.
After a whirlwind two years of touring and promoting Blurring The Edges, Brooks found herself alone in her house where she began the process of re-examining her life. This personal deconstruction resulted in rediscovering a sense of self and a sense of humor that ultimately brought about the songs for the new CD aptly titled Deconstruction.
“My success is not financial or fame,” she says. “I had to face things I thought I’d handled, and survived. My story is about somebody who’s using her healing to help heal others.”
Brooks produced this record with David Darling (Boxing Gandhis), and set out to make music that was fun but with a message that would touch people. As with Blurring the Edges, Brooks plays all of the guitars on Deconstruction. The first single, “Lay Down,” has been one of her tour staples and features Queen Latifah and the Crenshaw High School choir, participants in her successful mentoring program AMP. “This song has always been in my consciousness,” says Brooks. “I kind of forget it’s a cover because it’s been with me since I was a little kid. It’s such a thrill to have Queen Latifah on it who I met last year when we were both on Lilith Fair.”
The songwriting on Deconstruction touches upon topics both personal and universal. In “Shout” Meredith offers a reality check on what’s important and what’s not, “If you’re gonna shout/Do it good and loud/You need something to shout about.” The bittersweet country-flavored “I Have Everything,” with its ringing guitars laments that not even material success can substitute for love. In “Cosmic Woo Woo,” Meredith sings about not being a trend-follower with the lyrics “Be who you are/Let everyone deal/speak with your own voice/Just get real.” The electro-acoustic ambience of “Nobody’s Home,” takes us on a poignant childhood journey with chilling results, “All she ever wanted was a place on this earth/She shouts for a savior/Or anyone who’d hear her.”
A lifelong musician who learned how to play guitar when she inherited the instrument from an older sister as a kid, Brooks left home at 15 to make it as a rock guitarist in Los Angeles. Brooks is particularly proud of her ability as a musician, having recently been asked to grace the cover of the prestigious Guitar Player magazine. Her fingerprints and fretwork are all over Deconstruction – the weeping scales of “I Said It,” the island feel of “Back To Eden,” the Stones-like raunchy rhythm guitars of “All For Nothing,” the gently strummed acoustic guitar of the Dylanesque “Sin City,” the transcendental “Back To Nowhere,” and the overdubbed Lesleys that provide the texture for “Bored With Myself.”
Brooks has used her creativity as an emotional outlet for dealing with life’s curveballs and it’s this philosophy that led her to launch AMP – Anybody’s Mentoring Program. The idea behind AMP is to encourage high school students to network with each other and their community to gain the resources necessary to explore their creativity and succeed. This past year Meredith reached out to hundreds of high school students when she embarked on a speaking tour of West Coast high schools, many in the inner city.
“I want to show kids that their creativity is their autonomy and that the future is not as hopeless as many feel it is,” says Brooks. “My hope is to inspire kids to continue in music, or any creative desire. We know this builds self-esteem. I believe it shows kids how to be self-motivated and pro-active in all life’s choices.”
Meredith shares these same beliefs with her fans via her special website promotion “Meredith Mondays” at www.meredithbrooks.com by allowing them to follow her creative process in the studio. She posted rough mixes of songs as they were recorded as well as photos and video clips.
Deconstruction dares to abandon the formula of success and delves into new territory, as unafraid as its creator to explore new ground, emotionally and musically. “This album reminds me that it’s not all for nothing,” she says. “I will leave something behind. It’s an act of reaffirmation.”