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Greg Laswell at the Ark, 3 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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It's fair to say Greg Laswell covers a lot of ground on his latest album.

As its title indicates, "Covers II" is the San Diego singer-songwriter's second set of cover songs, coming 10 years after its predecessor and following up last year's "Next Time." On it, Laswell takes on songs by the Verve, Depeche Mode, Peter Gabriel, the Psychedelic Furs, PJ Harvey and more, putting his own spin on everything. Laswell, 45, also sang and played everything and produced the set himself, with signer Molly Jenson joining him on four of the songs.

"Covers II" is, of course, a sidestep from Laswell's own music, but he's happy to try others' songs on before delivering the next collection of his own...

Laswell says by phone that he "didn't plan" to do another covers album. The impetus was building a new home studio and wanting to break it in. "I didn't want to write the next record yet, and covers have always been kind of fun for me. It allows me to take the emotional part and the personal part out of recording, and I'm just left with someone else's work. It's kind of like coloring in a coloring book -- it's like someone else's artwork but you get to color it in your way, whereas doing original stuff can be quite taxing."

Laswell's approach to a second covers album "was very similar to the first. Both times my manager and I compiled a list of possibilities, and I kind of eliminated some as I went through them over several weeks. Some of them I didn't know at all, which was similar to the first time. I kind of approached them lyrically first; Even if I know the song I'll read the lyrics first and let that dictate whether or not I cover it."

As for his next set of original material, Laswell says that "I started it right before I left (on tour). There's a bunch of ideas I have floating around, nothing complete yet. There's a few songs almost finished, but nothing complete. I'll get through this tour and take a little time off, a couple of weeks, and then I'll get back to work. I don't really concern myself with it until it's really time to start working on it. The tour kind of demands my attention full-time."

Greg Laswell performs at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28 at the Ark, Ann Arbor. $20. 734-761-1818 or theark.org.


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