Review : Greg Laswell - Landline
PopmattersGreg Laswell’s fourth full-length album, Landline, begins with “Come Back Down”, a super-pop duet with Sara Bareilles in which he proclaims, “All of your wallowing is unbecoming / You’ve gotta take it on your own from here / It’s getting pathetic and I’m almost done here”. It is condescending and fairly self-righteous, but not entirely untrue. I’m sure many of us have experienced moments where we indulge in self-pity or, conversely, witness those closest to us indulge in self-pity that results in self-induced stagnation. I’m sure in these instances, we reach a point of exhaustion where we want to slap the person awake, to help them get a handle on themselves. However, this type of tactic usually only works in the movies — and it’s still condescending and self-righteous. This tension of understanding something as relatively true and yet tactless in its delivery permeates throughout Laswell’s most recent effort. So much so that the listener struggles between self-awareness over being called-out, and incredulity over being lectured to. It makes a fairly accessible album, well, less accessible.
Greg Laswell can be difficult to get behind at times, and this is ever-present throughout Landline. The production is typically safe, with the occasional nuance and edge thrown in to differentiate him from other less interesting solo “sensitive” male artists. However, everything is so pristine and perfect on almost all of his recordings that it’s difficult to discern whether we’re hearing the human Greg Laswell or some pitch-perfect computerized imposter. The autotune is so glaring that nary a wrong note is heard anywhere — God forbid a wrong note may indicate that Greg is in fact fallible and thus endearing. His vocals, and much of the production, instead sounds cold and calculated as if poor Laswell is too ashamed to show his humanity. Ironic considering much of the content of Landline involves some rather poignant observations about humanity and connectedness. And although most of this would tend to gear towards a fairly bad album, much of Landline is fairly enjoyable, but perhaps not for the reasons Laswell intends....full text
TheowlmagAt long last Greg Laswell’s fifth full length album, Landline, is here. Self-produced and recorded in a church-turned-house in Maine, the 11 track collection is replete with all of the things that we love about Laswell. Filled with moving melodies and rich soothing vocals the record also features collaborations with Ingrid Michaelson, Sia, Elizabeth Ziman, and Sara Bareilles. The result is so magical we can barely contain ourselves.
Since February, fans have been salivating over the lead single “Come Back Down” starring Bareilles, who Laswell toured with in 2010. Kicking things off with a burst of energy, the upbeat tempo nicely contrasts the melancholy nature of the song. A similar variance occurs in “Dragging You Around” as Sia’s hauntingly angelic vocals bring enchantment to otherwise tumultuous sentiments. On the flipside, the doleful “Back To You” featuring Ziman is delicately understated; as is the title track. “Landline,” sung by and co-written with wife, Michaelson, while the power was out, ends the album on a lovely note....full text
GlidemagazineGreg Laswell knows exactly what his audience wants. He has made a career out of combining swelling and brooding piano pop-rock melodies, tales of love and loss, and vocals that mine the depths of mourning and the heights of ecstasy when they aren’t simply flatlining their way through a story. The performances are hypnotic time and time again even if the territory he covers is often familiar, and this is no less true on his latest release.
Landline is loaded with diverse musical moments. First single “Come Back Down” is the sort of epic pop rock that radio loves, and when you add in the fact that Sara Bareilles guests on the track, it’s a recipe for music gold. Laswell’s wife, fellow indie pop-rocker and DIY princess Ingrid Michaelson, guests on the chilling, closing title track which features a Simon & Garfunkel-esque fade out reminiscent of “The Boxer.” “Back to You” and “Dragging You Around” likewise feature guest vocalists (Elizabeth Ziman and Sia, respectively), with the first featuring little more than a somber piano and sparse orchestral flourishes while the latter is more radio-ready pop-rock....full text
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