Singer/songwriter/producer Greg Laswell is certainly not the biggest name in music, but he has spent the past decade or so quietly building a successful solo career through hooky, piano-driven melodies and song placements on popular television shows and movies. His fifth studio release Landline (released this week) may be his best offering to date.
Self-produced and recorded in a converted church building in Maine, Landline is packed with prime examples of catchy melodies and lyrics upon which Laswell’s musical career is built, and although there’s nothing particularly groundbreaking here, the music is far from boring. Let’s just say if I were making a record, I’d want this guy to produce it; the songs simply sparkle and shine, and the audio quality is exceptionally easy on the ears.
On this record, at least, Greg Laswell seems to have an affinity for sharing the mic with solid female vocalists. Landline’s powerful opening track “Come Back Down” features vocals from Laswell’s tour buddy from last year, pop sensation Sara Bareilles; the record closes with the downtempo title track, featuring vocals from Laswell’s better-known, better half Ingrid Michaelson (whom he married last year). In between, Elizabeth Ziman and Sia also offer guest vocal appearances.
But make no mistake: Laswell is not hiding behind the female vocals here. Through a diversity of tracks on the record, he shows remarkable range with his voice. At different times, Laswell shows a low-key, reflective side reminiscent of Mat Kearney (“Another Life to Lose”), then turns and wails with a passion that reminds us of Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman (“I Might Drop By”).
Honestly, I tried to find at least one track on this record that I didn’t like; I didn’t find any. From a critical standpoint, the only weakness I could point out is that the record gets a little ballad-heavy toward the end, and could have used a pick-me-up tune toward the end of the track list. But as far as the songs themselves, each one could easily be a radio-worthy single on its own.
At the end of the day, Greg Laswell hasn’t produced a record that will break records; this is just a solid record of excellent music, performed and produced by an excellent artist. Landline is definitely worth picking up.
ALBUM RATING: 4.5 Stars (out of five)