Originally from Long Beach, California, producer/singer/songwriter Greg Laswell moved to San Diego in the early '90s to attend college. He became involved in the city's music scene by fronting a local band, Shillglen, and founding All the Rest Records. Shillglen broke up in 2001, leaving Laswell free to write his own pop/rock material and devote more time to studio work. He made his solo debut with the release of 2003's Good Movie, which he financed himself and released on his own label. When All the Rest Records went out of business one year later, he started a new company — 20 Inch Records — and began working as a producer.
Good Movie became a local success, earning Laswell a contract with Vanguard Records in the process. He signed with the label and released a sophomore album, Through Toledo, in 2006. The album had been written and recorded during Laswell's divorce from his first wife, and its promising sound — wistful, somber, but tuneful nonetheless — earned him a spot on the Hotel Cafe's European tour. While touring in early 2008, he released an EP titled How the Day Sounds and readied himself for the arrival of his third album, Three Flights from Alto Nido, which appeared that summer. Around this time Laswell's songs began appearing in films (Friends with Benefits, My Sister's Keeper) and television series (Parenthood, Grey's Anatomy). A Covers EP arrived in 2009, followed by the full-length Take a Bow in May 2010.