Taking a warmer page from the book of Bon Iver, songwriter and producer Greg Laswell secluded himself in rural cabin just south of Flagstaff, Arizona to create his fourth record, Take a Bow. Playing all instruments and performing most of the studio duties himself, this is easily Laswell’s most controlled, and yet exploratory, release to date. The crushing emotions of heartache remain as his primary inspiration, but this latest collection of songs is far from a hermetic journey into melancholia. They are instead weighted with the insight and optimism afforded by acceptance, moving on, and recollection. Opening number “Take Everything”, for all of its exuberant strumming, arcing piano chorus, and runaway guitar solo, is about losing everything to love, and thus is emblematic of Laswell’s entire approach to music. For him, the sadness of the subject matter may or may not be reflected in the music’s tone. The haunting piano line and vocals of “My Fight (For You)”, the sparse keyboard juxtaposed with the jarring bridge of “Come Clean”, and the acoustic and percussive simplicity of the title track all makes the end of a relationship seem rather pleasant, more silver lining than shivered pining. Take a Bow is mostly a very solid album, hindered only by the made-for-TV sound of “In Front of Me” and “You, Now”. Laswell’s rich voice and musicianship drip with sincerity throughout Take a Bow, making this one of the most genuine and surprisingly uplifting albums of the year.
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