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Perfect for a soundtrack

Three Flights From Alto Nido
Three Flights From Alto Nido
By Greg Laswell

Vanguard Records: 2008

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This review first appeared in Turbula in September 2008.

San Diego's Greg Laswell doesn't write soundtracks – and yet his moody and atmospheric folk-rock is regularly ending up on a lot of TV shows. "Smallville" and "One Tree Hill." "Numb3rs" and "Without a Trace." "Shark" and "The Hills." All of these shows have featured songs from previous Laswell albums, as did the film "Daniika."

Laswell's latest album, "Three Flights From Alto Nido," should continue that run of success. Immediately accessible melodies are presented in absolutely lush arrangements. Laswell has a warmly resonant singing voice, and his lyrics are intelligently intriguing.

And while that combination of smooth melodicism and smooth production do make for nice background music perfect for setting a scene on screens small and big, his better songs here – "Been a Year," "Days Go On" and "How the Day Sounds" (the latter two of which first appeared last year on a six-song EP) in particular – deserve to be heard on their own.

If there's a drawback here, it's that every track has the same downtempo vocal approach (even those songs with uptempo beats) – it's as if all the songs are meant for some teen-angst drama on the CW network. It would be nice to hear Laswell get out of his singing comfort zone and tackle an out-and-out rocker to shake things up.