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With crystalline vocals and emotive musicality, Greg Laswell’s Next Time captures that junction of growth and despair.
Haunting, genuine and surprisingly uplifting
Majestic and meditative
“I wanted a song bigger than life, or at least bigger than mine,” Greg Laswell reveals of “Royal Empress,” the exuberant opening track to his 2018 LP Next Time. The Southern California troubadour has garnered considerable critical acclaim with his uncompromising songwriting and raw, visceral delivery—rightly drawing comparisons to the likes of Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave—but also exhibiting an honesty that consistently unlocks a door to a very personal place, defined only by a singular collective of experiences. The Big Takeover described him as “a masterful, distinctive, and vital artist,” “distinctive” being the operative word. His songs have appeared in marquee network television shows from True Blood to Grey’s Anatomy, The Vampire Diaries to Arrow—whenever a particularly poignant scene needs to be rawly soundtracked. But this is something he explores to a particularly august effect on the album’s new cinematic tracks like “Super Moon,” “For You,” and “Never Want to See You Again.”
In a career of dramatic arcs, Next Time—perhaps a result of the real difficulties of seeing it through—would seem to represent a musical and emotional pinnacle for Laswell. Indeed, it’s the album he has surely always meant to make, while life’s little (and sometimes very big) vagaries were getting in the way. “I’ve found over the years that it often takes one song, or one moment in a song, for me to see clearly where the record will head,” he says. And this is surely a case of instincts, well trusted.