album reviews

Greg Laswell
Three Flights From Alto Nido
Vanguard Records (2008)

California singer-songwriter Greg Laswell makes sadness sound so enticing on his third album, "Three Flights From Alto Nido." With a voice as sweet as Chris Martin's and songs as heartbreaking as Elliott Smith's, Laswell tells 11 tales of broken relationships, sorrow and loneliness -- but with such a calming voice and full instrumentation that his music is anything but depressing.

Professionally speaking, Laswell doesn't have much to be sad about: His music has been used in numerous TV shows (including "Grey's Anatomy" and "90210"), and he was the first artist signed to Whole Foods' new Artist Discovery Series, a Starbucksian move that will feature albums for sale at the stores' checkout lanes.

It's easy to see why Laswell's music works so well in film: His music captures sorrow in a way that is emotional and non-distracting to the scene at hand. Even as he defines the lonely as "the ones that seek and find, only to be let down time after time" on "Comes and Goes (In Waves)," he delivers a song that is enchanting and oddly uplifting, with its guitar and piano interplay and the stunning harmonies of Molly Jenson.

But "Alto Nido" is not just teen TV pap: The piano-driven "Days Go On" is as mesmerizing as it is haunting, and "Not Out" is a swaying tribute to life after love, with Laswell's charismatic voice sure to induce swoons in every woman who hears it.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 9 January 2009, Page WE08
.: Three Flights From Alto Nido on