Thursday, May 13, 2010

Greg Laswell - Take a Bow

Album Artwork Courtesy of GregLaswell.com

Known for his somber and melancholy lyrics and melodies, Greg Laswell has gained recognition in the past few years for his inclusions on the soundtracks of shows like Grey's Anatomy and Friday Night Lights. That being said, you may be surprised to read some of the lyrics from "You, Now," a song off his latest release, Take a Bow:

The sun the moon and everything 
in between the stars and the sea 
everything can wait until I see you
This life is not to waste
I want you now

Yes, this is the same Greg Laswell that produced the dark adaptation of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" for the Confessions of a Shopaholic soundtrack. The same artist who said at one of his concerts, "If you listen to my music, you've probably been through some sort of heartache." But it seems that, after a year and half break since his last full album (with his excellent Covers EP in between),  Mr. Laswell has taken a bit of a turn. Take a Bow represents an expansion of emotional boundaries for the singer-songwriter, exploring not just heartbreak, but also yearning, adoration and love. Even the reappearance of his 2008 single "Off I Go" comes with a revamping of brighter chords and a generally happier outlook of what lies in the future.

That is not to say that Laswell has abandoned the solemn tones of his previous work. The album features one of his most heartbreaking, and beautiful, songs to date, "Goodbye." It is not the absence of sorrow that makes Take a Bow so different, it is the juxtaposition and range of emotions that make it an exciting journey. One minute it's "Here's a firm goodbye to yesterday and the time I wasted... trying to find my way to you love"; the next it's "It was really nice to meet you... goodbye. It's high time I quit wondering why, 'cuz I have lost all that I can from my side."

One of the most standout tracks is certainly "Come Clean," which starts with an almost madrigal-like, odd-metered feeling and develops into a fully enraged plea for the truth. In a recent interview, Laswell described the song as "the first time in a song where I’m pissed off. It felt good." It sounds pretty good, too. Other standout tracks include the first single, "Take Everything" (video embedded below), a fun tongue-in-cheek song about realizing someone's lies, and "Around The Bend," which captures that one moment before realizing a relationship is truly over.

A new album is often a nerve-wracking time for fans of an artist. While the hope is to hear more of what we've come to love, using the same tricks and becoming a one-note is never good. What Greg Laswell did with Take a Bow was to explore more of what we know and love of his music and expand it to places unexpected. That calls for a well-deserved bow.

Grade: A

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