COURTESY PHOTOLeighton Meester – of TV’s “Gossip Girl” fame – has a new CD

Leighton Meester moves back to music

Leighton Meester certainly knows the wickedness of idle chatter. The actress built a TV career on the concept, playing privileged teen Blair Waldorf on the CW’s hit show “Gossip Girl.”

She’s fully prepared to encounter skepticism regarding “Heartstrings,” the new CD that raises the curtain on her side career as a singer-songwriter. But there’s nothing offhanded about it; for years, she’s been quietly penning and recording tunes in her home studio.

“Although I also had a, uhh, day job that I did, and still do,” she says. “But I want this to be my day job now. At least for a while.”

With her backing band Check in the Dark, Meester, 28, appears in San Francisco this week, hoping to dispel doubts with her heartfelt, folk-rock originals such as “LA,” “Blue Afternoon” and the country-tinged “Good For One Thing.”

“Heartstrings” is a decidedly convincing first effort, with gossamer production flourishes courtesy of Jeff Trott, formerly of the Bay Area’s Wire Train.

The first time they met, she says, “Jeff was such a fun, enjoyable person, I could see hanging out with him for long periods of time.”

Trott found an eager disciple in Meester. “He taught me a lot about playing and singing. And also to trust my instincts, and to be able to be a little bit corny, but in a really good way,” she says.

Music isn’t new to Meester. She was doing guest vocals on TV and film soundtracks seven years ago, which led to a cameo on Cobra Starship’s hit single “Good Girls Go Bad,” then a contract with Universal Republic. Yet no album materialized.

Meester grew increasingly uncomfortable with the Cobra-Starship-danceable direction the label imagined for her. Eventually, she amicably split with Universal and went out on her own.

An acting and vocal appearance in the film “Country Strong” gave her an earthy new direction, and she launched her own imprint, Hotly Wanting, to release “Heartstrings” through the indie Vagrant.

Post-“Gossip Girl,” Meester relocated to Los Angeles, married “The OC” actor Adam Brody, and returned to making movies, including the upcoming “Like Sunday, Like Rain” with Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong.

“He is one of the nicest, most centered people I’ve ever met, and he plays my ex-boyfriend, who’s a sign of my immature past,” she says of her co-star, adding that they never once discussed songwriting on set. “We talked about acting instead, because he is quite good!”


Leighton Meester

Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. March 2

Tickets: $22

Contact: (415) 885-0750,

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