released May 4th, 2010

from the album - Off I Go

from all music

Originally from Long Beach, CA, singer/songwriter Greg Laswell moved to San Diego in the early '90s to attend college. He became involved in the city's music scene by fronting a local band, Shillglen, and founding All the Rest Records. Shillglen broke up in 2001, leaving Laswell free to write his own pop/rock material and devote more time to studio work. He made his solo debut with the release of 2003's Good Movie, which he financed himself and released on his own label. When All the Rest Records went out of business one year later, he started a new company 20 Inch Records and began working as a producer.

Good Movie became a local success, earning Laswell a contract with Vanguard Records in the process. He signed with the label and released a sophomore album, Through Toledo, in 2006. The album had been written and recorded during Laswell's divorce from his first wife, and its promising sound wistful, somber, but tuneful nonetheless earned him a spot on the Hotel Cafe's European tour. While touring in early 2008, he released an EP titled How the Day Sounds and readied himself for the arrival of his third album, Three Flights from Alto Nido, which appeared that summer. Take a Bow followed in May 2010.

album review

To call Greg Laswell a singer/songwriter is to risk misinterpretation by those who use the term generically. Laswell's no laid-back folk-rocker plunking the same three chords over and over on a battered acoustic guitar. If anything, the EP that preceded Take a Bow can offer a hint as to where he's coming from stylistically -- it contains his versions of songs by Echo & the Bunnymen, Kate Bush, and Kristin Hersh, among others, so if you're thinking Laswell's a man who likes his atmosphere thick and isn't afraid of adjectives like "arty," you're on the right track in approaching this, his third full-length. The last time around, Laswell was mourning a broken heart, and either he still hasn't quite gotten over it, or he's gotten the damn thing busted up all over again, because there's no shortage of emotional wreckage floating across Take a Bow. Fortunately for all concerned, Laswell does disconsolation very well, using it as fuel for tunes as full of evocative melodies and imaginative arrangements as lovelorn vibes. At times, he keeps things quiet and low-key, crooning over a soft bed of keyboards and guitars with only the lyrics betraying any real psychological turmoil. But the tracks where he lets it all hang out sonically as well as verbally are perhaps the album's most interesting moments. "Come Clean," for example, shifts between a soulful moan with simple electric piano accompaniment, and a savage, pounding, rifftastic section that could have fallen off of some alt metal album. "Around the Bend," the album's arguable peak, starts off with the pedal to the metal, kicking into a huge, orchestral rock progression that wouldn't alienate Godspeed You Black Emperor! fans, before moving into smooth, subtle, Brit-pop-esque passages that eventually lead back towards the abyss. This song's lyrics reveal more than a little about Laswell's modus operandi, too. "Play the song without the hook in the third line," he sings, "so I can forget it easily, like I wish I could forget you." You just know that the poor guy knows damn well neither of those things is going to happen.

Track Listing

1 Take Everything Laswell 3:23
2 My Fight (For You) Laswell 3:50
3 Lie To Me Laswell 3:33
4 Come Clean Laswell 3:58
5 Around The Bend Laswell 4:46
6 Take a Bow Laswell 3:59
7 In Front of Me Laswell 3:57
8 You, Now Laswell 2:48
9 Marquee Laswell 3:50
10 Off I Go Laswell 4:18
11 Let It Ride Laswell 4:02
12 Goodbye Laswell 3:53