Brooklyn singer/songwriter Greg Laswell is best known for his melancholy music. His husky and often Leonard Cohen-esque baritone voice shaking over the delicate strums of an acoustic guitar is a sound vulnerable enough to put a lump in any grown man’s throat (not speaking from personal experience … except for the four times I’ve seen him in concert and that happened to me). There’s a reason he’s the go-to “queue the tear-ducts” guy for music to flatline to on Grey’s Anatomy.
But for the lead single from his upcoming fourth album, Landline, Laswell has taken a hard step on the gas petal to accelerate his signature sound. “Come Back Down” is a soaring and uptempo slice of indie pop/rock with a chorus so addictive it should come with a warning from the Surgeon General.
Featuring guest vocals by the devoid-of-flaw Sara Bareilles, “Come Back Down” is composed of richly textured harmonies and driving percussion to create a powerful song about stopping someone from going down a path of self-destruction. Acting as an intervention of sorts, the track points out how a friend’s irresponsible attitude/behavior is negatively impacting their loved ones and subsequent relationships.
“Look around you, you’re the only one dragging this out/You’ve gotta come back down,” Laswell and Bareilles sing as they serve up a piping hot dish of tough-love. “All of your wallowing is unbecoming/You’ve gotta take it on your own from here/It’s getting pathetic and I’m almost done here.”
This go-for-the-jugular approach is precisely the kick in the ass you expect (or at least should) from your good friends if you’re being unreasonably emo or going through a funk. And the lyrics are so direct and honest that I’m surprised the cover artwork for the single doesn’t come with a literal stamp of approval from Camille Grammer.
(Image courtesy of RealityTVGifs)
So who is this biting track about? “If I’m quite honest, I wrote it to myself,” Laswell confessed in a recent interview with Chicago Pride. “Not to my present self, but to a former version of myself. It was one of the first songs that I wrote for the record, kind of laying to rest a lot of things that were going on in my life.”
Well, Greg, on behalf of your fans – and all the new ones you’re about to recruit when this song blows up (which it rightfully should) – thank you. Thank you for getting your shit together and being brave enough to write about it. And thank you for writing a pop song that’s not only hella catchy but is also both crucial and inspiring.
Bareilles is just one of many female artists Laswell recorded a duet with for Landline. Other songstresses whose voices will be featured on the upcoming record include Sia, Elizabeth Ziman (of Elizabeth and the Catapult), and Laswell’s wife, the incomparable Ingrid Michaelson.
With a roster of featured guest-artists like that and a lead single as perfect as “Come Back Down,” Landline might just be Laswell’s ticket to becoming the next “it” indie act on the mainstream radar. And if that’s the case, then get it, homeboy. It’s about time.
Landline is available for pre-order on iTunes and will be released on April 24th via Vanguard Records.