If you look for specific meaning in album titles, Greg Laswell’s Everyone Thinks I Dodged a Bullet (2016) wasn’t hard to figure out. But with such a monumental emotional catharsis behind him, 2018 finds him sending decidedly more mixed signals, even with the title of his newest LP, Next Time. And as it opens with the genuinely exuberant “Royal Empress,”
you’d be safe to assume he’s intending to convey that this is indeed the “next time,” and that this time, he was intent on casting a wider emotional net…and letting go of the past. “I wanted a song bigger than life, or at least bigger than mine,” Laswell reveals of the opening track. 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, obviously. But this is something he explores to a particularly august effect on new cinematic tracks like “Super Moon,” “For You,” and “Never Want to See You Again.”


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