Greg Laswell

How the Day Sounds
(Vanguard Records)

After scoring a couple of songs on TV shows like Smallville and One Tree Hill (and briefly frolicking with Mandy Moore), one would think Greg Laswell might be a pretty cheerful guy. But this San Diego singer-songwriter's latest six-song EP, How the Day Sounds, is dripping with melancholy and tension. This album is the follow-up to the critically successful Through Toledo, and on it, Laswell splits his time between piano and guitar. The problem is that he's clearly a better guitar player and can write more interesting and complex songs on the six-string, such as the title track and "Salvation Dear." His piano playing consists mostly of striking chords, and it gets old pretty fast. Two of the three keyboard tunes feel flat and lifeless, with the exception of the beautiful "High and Low," which probably has Chris Martin feeling a tinge of jealousy. "Days Go On," by far the most interesting track on the album, is a driving, tense affair, making Laswell's isolated lyrics and husky voice seem even more frail and intriguing. Laswell's deep, narrative takes on life are all worth a listen, but he should stick to the six-string next time.

 
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