The truest romantics are those that possess the most ambiguous, possibly even bemused view of the mysteries of love. After all, you can’t truly know the dizzying heights, until you have allowed yourself to be dragged through mire down below.
LA songsmith Greg Laswell – sometimes and rightly compared to the likes of Leonard Cohen and the late Jeff Buckley – has long been reporting in song on just such perilous ups and downs as these. His last album, 2016’s heartrending Everyone Thinks I Dodged a Bullet, was a masterstroke of musical catharsis, an unflinching confessional set to a vividly evocative aural soundscape.
He’s back with a haunting new single, “What Do I Know,” which might be his most sonically sumptuous song yet. As a chorus of melancholy strings paints the backdrop, his piano taps out a characteristically delicately beautiful melody. And no surprise for Mr. Laswell, it’s lyrically shot through with emotional perplexity and doubt: “Everything is fine / Thank you for asking / Of all the years to miss out on, you did well / Allow me one great lie: you’re not quite gone.”
If “What Do I Know” is indeed the first taste of full new album, it surely augurs greatness. But in the meantime, he’ll also launch a 16-date North American tour on May 31 in Phoenix – a can’t miss for coloring your spring.
More immediately, however, we asked him to curate a very Greg Laswell sort of playlist for this Valentine’s Day 2018, one that doesn’t fall back on the cliched refrains of hearts and flowers – but that goes much deeper into heralding us towards a more labyrinthine understanding of the ways and means of amour. Indeed, from Lana Del Rey’s chilling “Born to Die,” to Placebo’s poignant cover of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill,” it’s an uncompromising soundtrack for a sometimes unforgiving holiday.
“I’ve never been particularly fond of Valentine’s Day,” he confides, “and I understand it can be very polarizing. But every song is a love song on some level. We all write about love, loss, heartbreak, love again…and since I like to soundtrack my life, a Valentine’s Day playlist seemed appropriate.”
So even if you find yourself staring romantically across a theatrically set dinner table this evening, you will surely be equally sated on food for visceral thought.
“Happy” Valentine’s Day.