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Rob Laufer

The Floating World (self-released)

L.A. singer/songwriter Rob Laufer’s last solo album was released in 2010, but it would be folly to assume that the break is down to laziness. Far from it. Laufer is an in-demand session musician, songwriter and producer who has worked with artists as prestigious as the Pixies’ Frank Black, Fiona Apple and OK GO. He’s written songs for TV shows such as Melrose Place and Scrubs, and movies like Baby Mama and In the Land of Blood and Honey. He even played the role of George Harrison in the stage play Beatlemania.

So his career has been varied and busy up to now. When Tom Petty died in 2017, Laufer saw his desire to get on the solo horse reawakened. Perhaps torturing himself during the songwriting process prior, he admired Petty’s simplistic approach and told himself to “Just write the damn song.”

That all comes out on The Floating World. Essentially, this is a low-key power-pop album that recalls the likes of Marshall Crenshaw and Butch Walker. From the opening “Avalanche,” those Tom Petty and Beatles influences reveal themselves, an understated song that appears simple on the surface but sees layers peel away and allows unforgettable melodies to push forward.

“Bolt of Blue” has an Elvis Costello vibe, while the gentle title track is very Lennon. But while his muses are all present and correct, it would be inaccurate to suggest that the sound is completely generic. Laufer is able to stamp his mark on what might come across as formulaic songwriting in lesser hands.

“Awash in a wave of consciousness, his sense of freedom soaring,” Lauper sings on “Hippie Love,” which is an appropriate sentiment with which to end the album.

Rob Laufer plays an album release show on August 27 at the Hotel Cafe.

(Rob Laufer)