Review : Greg Laswell - Take a Bow
PastemagazineAsk yourself a simple question: When you hear a stirring mid-tempo ballad on Grey’s Anatomy, do you rush off to the iTunes Store? If the answer is yes, then Greg Laswell’s Take a Bow is absolutely for you. The L.A. smoothie’s fourth album so expertly splits time between intimate ballads, atmospheric soft rock and starchy hard rock that it feels focus-grouped. “My Fight (For You)” is a dimly smoldering piano ballad and “Lie to Me” wearily climbs tier upon tier of chiming guitars; meanwhile, the hard rock aspects are unconvincing—the crashing chorus of “Come Clean,” for instance, feels stiff and forced. Laswell is an undemonstrative singer, his voice pleasant but tired and dry as the music around it. “I get a bit angry on a few tracks,” Laswell blogged about this album, and it’s true for some of the lyrics. If only more of that intensity had found its way into the music itself....full text
BlogcriticsWith his latest album, Take A Bow, Greg Laswell seems to have gone down the "if it ain't broke" route. It's only a gradual progression in style from his previous albums, Three Flights From Alto Nido and Through Toledo. In this case that's actually a very positive thing. In the late-night, singer-songwriter genre, trying to experiment and reinvent yourself can often just be messy wandering. Laswell has already proved himself an inspired tunesmith, and here he continues to mine from an established well.
The songs on this album are primarily about - big surprise here - love. But more in the effects or aftermath of it, and not as much the feeling or state itself. Opener "Take Everything" is a good example. It's a very catchy and upbeat tune that clashes with the lyrical realisation that you're being taken advantage of. Themes of ended relationships or the melancholic drive to pick yourself up again for more drive this collection of songs, but Laswell's gift as a writer makes them sound like almost heroic statements....full text
SentimentalistmagBrooklyn-by-way-of-California singer-songwriter Greg Laswell has built a respected career with lived-in relationship records. And while that might sound cringeworthy, there’s nothing cliché about the places Laswell goes to in song. While previous releases were perhaps too steeped in wallow, Take a Bow, Laswell’s third, is indeed a record of goodbye, embracing resolution over surrender. This kind of dreamy effortlessness is not the product of a broken man, but a learned man. With a voice that rises and falls in an appealingly resonant lower register, Laswell is a gifted artist in the vein of Brendan Benson, and his penchant for assured production, intricate melodies and great mixtape material. Just try to resist the epic shimmer of “Take Everything,” “Off I Go” and “Come Clean,” or the swoon-worthy “Lie to Me,” which finds Laswell intoning, “Go ahead and lie to me. I’ll believe in anything you say tonight… I don’t mind playing the fool.” Gorgeous. Fans of Benson, Jason Mraz, Joshua Radin and Cary Brothers will rejoice. (Vanguard Records) –Carrie Alison...full text
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