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Wasn't Expecting That: Jamie Lawson's Slow Burn Rise To The Top

Friday, 06 November 2015 Written by Milly McMahon

Channel hopping through radio stations right now is a little like having the repeat button locked down on Jamie Lawson’s Wasn’t Expecting That.

“I only heard my song for the first time today on [BBC Radio 1 DJ] Clara Amfo’s show,” Lawson said. “She was chatting about needing tissues ready for when you hear it, which is odd to me because I don’t see the song as sad.”

Securing the number one spot in the UK with his new eponymous album, the Plymouth born, London-based singer-songwriter has stormed the charts from a position of relative obscurity, having been championed by friend and long-time fan Ed Sheeran, who released the record on his Gingerbread Man label.

Lawson previously put out albums on assorted small labels while touring pubs and playing his guitar to tiny crowds, but the 39-year-old has recently opened arena shows for One Direction and Sheeran. His rise has been a slow burn and he expects to keep on top of this new-found fame.

“Having toured with Ed I would say fame doesn’t seem to have affected him much, he still seems to be the same person,” he said. “I didn’t know One Direction pre-fame, I met Harry a few times now and he seems like a really cool guy. Hopefully, should l have similar success or even half of it, I should be able to continue being who I am.”

Scheduled to play his US television debut in the coming weeks on the massively popular Ellen DeGeneres show, Lawson’s distinctly English sound has won him fans across both Europe and the States, albeit at differing paces.

“The reactions internationally have all been different,” he said. “In the States, when I opened up for Ed, it was all a lot more relaxed, more laid back, but they still seemed to get the music. The European shows with One Direction were all loud and crazy, fantastic fun. Different, but fun.”

Quietly spoken and modest, Lawson’s music truly reflects his character. He is as calm and natural as his sound suggests. Collaborating with producer Will Hicks, who had also manned the desk for James Blunt, Lilly Allen and Sheeran, has encouraged a more poignant and introspective sound, one that enhances and focuses his voice. The album incorporates a variety of instrumentation and plays around with melodies, layering the mood and introducing a hopeful, romantic kind of melancholy. “I know you’re perfect, shattered and broken. Just you be who you are,” chime the lyrics on the beautiful In Our Own Words.

“The sound is warm and kind but that hasn’t always been my aesthetic,” he said. “I wanted this record to feel comforting. Other records were more about teen angst with regards to me dealing with things. I’m at a point in life where now I’m happy, happier, so I don’t have any of the inner turmoil that I had when I was younger, like most people have. My outlet for that was music.”

Lawson’s brother is a photographer and that too was initially the young, aspiring artist’s medium of choice before he dropped out of art school to focus on songwriting. “I really enjoy taking photos of landscapes and of people,” he said. “I’m not sure why I first picked up a camera but it was similarly as comfortable for me as the guitar.”

Accompanying the album’s official release was a new bio that read: “This album reflects a writer and singer who is confidently, comfortably and completely himself.”  

“I’m certainly very happy with this album,” Lawson reflected. “I’ve definitely made the album I wanted to make and I guess that’s what that reflects. I think I have found a way of being at home on a stage as I could possibly be. I’m very relaxed in doing what I do. There’s truth in that.

“What’s interesting right now is that because I’m so busy the music that I am playing for myself is much quieter and calmer than even before. The music’s success and the touring has almost had the opposite effect of disconnecting me from that calmness. Now I’m even more focused on trying to find space. This record benefits from a new confidence: me just being happy where I am in life. The biggest part of me getting more widely heard is just being on a major label with Ed and then being A Listed by Radio 1, Radio 2, Heart and Magic. When you get on the radio like that it makes a big difference.”

When he’s on the road, Lawson finds time to centre back to his creative headspace, writing and playing new music each and every day when he isn’t avoiding vodka shots in late night bars with Sheeran. His tipple of choice: just a cup of tea.

His latest album grows more endearing with each listen and the honest, sensitive style he exhibits on record is a seasoned art form honed and crafted over the years. Like a fine wine, gaining maturity and depth with time.

Jamie Lawson Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu January 14 2016 - GLASGOW Queen Margaret Union
Fri January 15 2016 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute2 Birmingham
Sat January 16 2016 - BRISTOL O2 Academy Bristol
Mon January 18 2016 - NOTTINGHAM Rock City
Tue January 19 2016 - LONDON O2 Shepherds Bush Empire
Thu January 21 2016 - MANCHESTER Ritz
Sat January 23 2016 - BELFAST Mandela Hall
Sun January 24 2016 - DUBLIN Vicar Street

Click here to compare & buy Jamie Lawson Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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