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Take a Bow

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Critics' Reviews

amg review
To call Greg Laswell a singer/songwriter is to risk misinterpretation by those who use the term generically. Laswell's no laid-back folk-rocker plunking the same three chords over and over on a battered acoustic guitar. If anything, the EP that preceded Take a Bow can offer a hint as to where he's coming from stylistically -- it contains his versions of songs by Echo & the Bunnymen, Kate Bush, and Kristin Hersh, among others, so if you're thinking Laswell's a man who likes his atmosphere thick and isn't afraid of adjectives like "arty," you're on the right track in approaching this, his third full-length. The last time around, Laswell was mourning a broken heart, and either he still hasn't quite gotten over it, or he's gotten the damn thing busted up all over again, because there's no shortage of emotional wreckage floating across Take a Bow. Fortunately for all concerned, Laswell does disconsolation very well, using it as fuel for tunes as full of evocative melodies and imaginative arrangements as lovelorn vibes. At times, he keeps things quiet and low-key, crooning over a soft bed of keyboards and guitars with only the lyrics betraying any real psychological turmoil. But the tracks where he lets it all hang out sonically as well as verbally are perhaps the album's most interesting moments. "Come Clean," for example, shifts between a soulful moan with simple electric piano accompaniment, and a savage, pounding, rifftastic section that could have fallen off of some alt metal album. "Around the Bend," the album's arguable peak, starts off with the pedal to the metal, kicking into a huge, orchestral rock progression that wouldn't alienate Godspeed You Black Emperor! fans, before moving into smooth, subtle, Brit-pop-esque passages that eventually lead back towards the abyss. This song's lyrics reveal more than a little about Laswell's modus operandi, too. "Play the song without the hook in the third line," he sings, "so I can forget it easily, like I wish I could forget you." You just know that the poor guy knows damn well neither of those things is going to happen. ~ J. Allen, Rovi