Three Flights from Alto Nido
First Appeared in The Music Box, September 2008, Volume 15, #9
Written by John Metzger
Sat September 20, 2008, 02:30 PM CDT
The problem with artists like Greg Laswell is that they are satisfied simply with creating compositions that lurk quietly in the background. They never seem to do anything to separate themselves from the rest of the adult contemporary pack. Consequently, their albums are neither mind-blowing nor unpleasant, and as they stroll from one song to the next, right down the middle of the road, they never become tedious, though they also aren’t exactly memorable. This is precisely why their work fits so well within the framework of network television’s prime time dramas, where the material can be shaped, sculpted, and informed by the settings into which it has been placed. The fans that these performers ultimately attract are those who have found a connection between the events of their own lives and those of the characters on their favorite program rather than with the music itself.
Laswell received a boost in attention when songs from his sophomore set Through Toledo began to appear in shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Cold Case, and Numb3rs. Not surprisingly, his latest endeavor Three Flights from Alto Nido is designed to take advantage of the same sorts of product placement schemes. The affair is filled with inoffensive songs that unfold effortlessly, but once again, the roads that are paved lead nowhere in particular. Strings dot the landscape of cuts like It’s Been a Year, acoustic guitars twinkle through Comes and Goes (In Waves), and the amplified essence of How the Day Sounds builds to a majestic crescendo. Through it all, Laswell sings as if he’s lost in a hazy dream, and his vocals casually drift through the arrangements, sometimes becoming so ethereal and breathy that it seems as if, at any moment, they might slip away.
All of the songs on Three Flights from Alto Nido are immediately accessible, though they also fall terribly flat. If comparisons must be made, Laswell’s material most frequently sounds like he has crossed Duncan Sheik with Coldplay and added, perhaps, a touch of Sting for good measure. Unlike the works of his key influences, however, Laswell’s compositions are completely lacking in melodies that reach out and engage the listener. The result is an album that is superficially enjoyable. In the end, though, Three Flights from Alto Nido also isn’t terribly satisfying. ˝
Of Further Interest...
Three Flights from Alto Nido is available from
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
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