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Jamie Lawson

Not necessarily an overnight success when the twist-in-the-tale-tearjerker tune `Wasn’t Expecting That’ bolted up the charts in 2015, acoustic singer-songwriter JAMIE LAWSON had had his own troubles while buried under the fickle fringes of the music biz. The song itself (which hit the Irish charts four years earlier) has since become, not only Jamie’s “un-expected” signature tune, but that of many carers and the bereaved who have witnessed the passing of their loved ones from terminal cancer – spoiler alert apologies. Jamie, himself, was a youthful-looking 39 when the song went viral.
Born 1 December 1975, St Budeaux, Plymouth, England, Jamie began to play the guitar at an early age, having been inspired by LEONARD COHEN, R.E.M. and a host of other legends. From performing in a school covers combo, to playing second-fiddle to the likes of GLEN HANSARD, GEMMA HAYES et al, on tour, while fashioning his career on Irish shores, LAWSON worked to garner attention from record labels; but a handful of promos went unnoticed. With nothing coming his way in bona fide deals, the troubadour self-financed his own debut album, LAST NIGHT STARS (2003) {*6}, a record that needed dusting down by the time of its 7-year-itch follow-up, THE PULL OF THE MOON (2010) {*6}.
A brainwave to release an exclusive YouTube video of `Wasn’t Expecting That’ was an inspirational one and, in Ireland, a re-tracked parent download-album of the same name – with several tracks overlapping from his previous outing – followed on from the surprise hit. Enticed back to British shores by his buddy ED SHEERAN, resulted in a fresh contract on the Warner Bros-endorsed Gingerbread Man imprint, while timing was key to the song’s re-launch.
Showing patience and an understanding of the times (as the similar GEORGE EZRA, JAMES BAY and VANCE JOY made their mark), the tender and reassuring song gate-crashed the British charts.
With nothing to re-boot or promote his eponymous debut set, JAMIE LAWSON (2015) {*7}, it was indeed unexpected that it soared to the top of the UK charts. Opening with his FM-friendly, er… played-to-death classic, and bolstered by other yearning, picturesque-type tunes such as `Someone For Everyone’, `Cold In Ohio’, `All This Beauty’ and `In Our Own Worlds’ (think Chris Martin, JAMES BLUNT or DAVID GRAY), pop-rock’s newest contemporary star might have a long-lasting career if he breaks America.
That premise was not on the cards when 2017’s HAPPY ACCIDENTS {*6} failed to register a place in the UK Top 20. While his touring compadre SHEERAN was setting all types of records that same year, Jamie’s appeal had flagged somewhat; despite composer credits by Ed and SNOW PATROL’s Johnny McDaid on attendant flop single `Can’t See Straight’. Further backing by Roger Manning, Jr. (ex-JELLYFISH) and SMASHING PUMPKINS drummer Matt Chamberlin did little to re-boot LAWSON’s street-pop cred, though the thoughtful and yearning `Don’t Say You Don’t If You Do’ and `Letter Never Sent’, appealed to his listeners.
Despite still treading the boards as support to SHEERAN, THE YEARS IN BETWEEN (2019) {*6} suffered in his boss’s wake. Surely Jamie’s management should’ve allowed their older prodigy a little more scope to bend the rules and branch out on his own – he’d been a No.1 artist just four years back! The problem with wistful Jamie’s non-charting album was down to “we’ve-heard-it-all-before”. The anthemic opener, `The Answer’, was refreshing, while his soulful-blues echoed PASSENGER, TOM ODELL or FOY VANCE. The tried-and-tested 3-minute verse-and-chorus was somewhat rudimentary; even on best bits `Perfect Sense’ and `These Troubled Times’. One can’t help think, that with an adventurous out-of-the-box producer/collaborator, LAWSON’s future fame might once again be in his own hands, and not that of his fly-by-night fickle fans.
© MC Strong/MCS Dec2015-Jun2019

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