With a nearly obsessive tendency to ruminate about a succession of doomed relationships, matched with lush, minor-key melodies that billow and hover like the memory of a dream, Greg Laswell has regularly placed songs on small and big-screen soundtracks, ranging from Grey's Anatomy to CSI Miami. Although pervasively moody, Laswell's contemplations of heartache manage to skirt depression, sometimes stopping just short of the brink, but somehow finding an even keel. For instance, when a departing lover threatens to "take everything from me and more" on the lead track from his latest album, Take a Bow, his "I don't mind" refrain, crooned with a touch of moroseness, nevertheless seems perfectly true. Similarly, Laswell's prevailing atmospheric pop is as deeply layered as the psychological struggles built into his lyrics. A crescendo of portentous synths can suddenly cut to a sparse piano figure, as in "Around the Bend," or a mounting sense of dread is quickly leavened by an optimistic melody plucked on banjo. One exception is "Come Clean," in which quiet intensity spasms into a metallic stomp. Laswell played virtually everything on Bow himself while secluded in the Arizona desert. And although he often laments desertion, he's ultimately okay with that. With the Rescues and Harper Blynn.
Thu., Nov. 4, 8 p.m., 2010