“I don’t know how much straight to artist recognition there actually is,” Greg Laswell lamented. While his name might not be familiar, his music definitely is. With both his original songs and covers, you cannot flip through primetime television without hearing a Greg Laswell song.
From “Off I Go,” a song written specifically for the season 5 finale of Grey’s Anatomy, to his somber cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” featured on Damages, Laswell has found many of his fans through television. Often it’s the gigs opening for other artists where that disconnect is realized.
“There’s definitely a shift in a crowd when they realize that you’re in their iPod,” Laswell said, “this really weird phenomenon is happening where people buy songs and they put them in their playlist but don’t connect it to the artist’s name.”
That disconnect hasn’t stopped Laswell from touring with Sara Bareilles, Sia and an upcoming summer tour with wife Ingrid Michaelson.
Before that tour takes off, Laswell heads out on a spring trek in support of his fifth studio album Landline.
A marked departure from his previous efforts, Landline features a side of Laswell that might surprise some fans. “I’d been struggling for quite a while to get this record started because I didn’t want to make another melancholy Greg Laswell album,” he explained, “ so I wrote a few of my very first real love songs without any irony.”
In addition to a smattering of love songs such as “I Might Drop By” and “It’s Settled Now,” Laswell also found inspiration for Landline in the most unlikely of places.
“I was listening to a bunch of hip-hop records leading up to this album,” Laswell surprisingly shared, “and I love how they treat their duets in that genre. The rapper does their bit and the girl comes in and takes the chorus away and it becomes her song. I love that dynamic so much.” This exploration led to numerous duets throughout Landline’s track listing.
Laswell combed his musical friendships and ultimately ended up singing with former tour mates Sara Bareilles and Sia, wife Ingrid Michaelson and current tour opener Elizabeth Ziman from Elizabeth and the Catapult.
“It was the most fun I’ve had making a record because I was able to be a fan of the music I was making without feeling guilty about it,” Laswell jokingly said.
Laswell’s musical evolution hasn’t stopped there. With “Addicted,” a Morgan Page collaboration burning up dance floors now, you might also hear Laswell’s voice playing in the club soon. “I like all kinds of music . . . except male singer songwriters,” Laswell joked, “people keep you pigeon-holed but if I had my way, I’d do a full-blown dance record, followed by a full-blown country record.”
“Addicted” stands to widen Laswell’s already substantial LGBTQ fan base, garnered partly by his covers and his musical contribution to LGBTQ youth advice website EveryoneIsGay.com.
“Early on I had a small [LGBTQ] fan base which increased after I covered Cyndi Lauper and Kate Bush’s ‘This Woman’s Work’ on my covers EP,” Laswell explained. A gay gem that will continue that trend is an in-the-works cover of Tori Amos’ “Crucify”.
While you might not hear that cover in Laswell’s current set list, any Grey’s Anatomy (which Laswell’s mother refers to as Greg’s Anatomy) fan will be sure to recognize a few tracks when Laswell comes through Nashville on Saturday, May 19, at 3rd & Lindsley. Of course, we’ll hear one of our favorites “What a Day,” a song that Laswell promises to always play live.