I Was Going to Be an Astronaut is songwriter Greg Laswell's gift to concert-going fans. He often changes the arrangements of songs from his catalog in performance. He decided to record these versions in order to accommodate numerous requests. The material dates from his proper debut album, 2006's Through Toledo, to 2012's Landline, with some interesting stops. Laswell played everything here and produced and mixed the set as well. These versions feel stripped down, almost "unmade" compared to those found on earlier releases. Opener "I Don't Believe It's Through" is a 2013 remake of "New Year's Eve." A lithe, broken love song, it's played on a Wurlitzer with clipped low-end electronic beats and sweeping harpsichord sounds, and vocal and ambient textures from the middle-eight on. There is a fine cover of the late Mark Linkous' (Sparklehorse) "It's a Wonderful Life" that's been performed, but never recorded. The inclusion of "December" will prove a treat. Long a feature in Laswell's concert sets, a different version was cut for Through Toledo, but left off. It's a melancholic waltz with piano and synth strings; his lead vocals are highlighted by a wordless, layered backing chorus. As one might expect, Laswell standards “How the Day Sounds” and "Comes and Goes (In Waves)" -- the latter is his most recognizable song from its placement in television shows and its near-ubiquitous presence on YouTube. On it, piano replaces guitar as the central instrument and the tempo is much slower. Despite its deliberately limited scope, I Was Going to Be an Astronaut will give fans something to discuss, debate, and perhaps delight in until an album of new material appears.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek