Upon its release, Jamie Lawson’s self-titled fourth album – the first through Gingerbread Man Records – was not only one higher than record company owner Ed Sheeran’s ‘X,’ but it topped the charts. I would say that Ed was pleasantly surprised, but after listening through ‘Jamie Lawson,’ the Sheeran-esque style of acoustic guitar and piano explains why Jamie was signed to the record label in the first place, and accentuates the album as a success for the 39 year old singer-songwriter.
The single ‘Wasn’t Expecting That,’ was a home run for Jamie, having been played all over the radio, and charting at number 6 in the UK Top 40. The rhythmic acoustic guitar, beautiful chordal extensions on the piano, and a tragic love story behind the lyrics underlines what Jamie can do at his best: write songs that tug at your emotions, and make the hair on your skin stand on end. This latter feeling is definitely felt in ‘Someone for Everyone’ with bright brass interjections that sadly overblow the energetic finger plucking of Lawson. ‘Cold in Ohio’ reminds me of the atmospheric musical texture of James Blunt’s ‘You’re Beautiful,’ but also like Blunt’s song, the lyrics are a bit cringe worthy: “It’s cold in Ohio, but warm here next to you.”
The issues of love, loss, and breaking up continue throughout all of Jamie’s songs on the album, but if you can look over this repetitive point, you can listen to some truly stunning songs. ‘Still Yours,’ tests the highest part of Jamie’s vocal range, but he controls the volume and notes with a delicacy like in John Legend’s ‘All Of Me,’ something rarely seen in male singers. ‘Ahead of Myself’ is a bit more animated, with an acoustic guitar lick which is reminiscent of a much rockier ‘What a Feeling’ by Boston, though still keeping with Jamie’s style. My personal favourite from the album – ‘Don’t Let Me Let You Go’ – switches out acoustic finger picking with an electric guitar riff which remains throughout the song, with the high piano line and electric “honky-tonk” style of keyboard makes this song stand out as different from all on the album, and reiterates that Jamie can, indeed, step out of his comfort zone of pure acoustic music.
It’s understandable that acoustic songs have been dominated by the likes of Ed Sheeran and James Bay on the chart recently, but Jamie Lawson may be that breath of fresh air the genre needs if it is to combat modern pop and electronic ballads. If you can look past each song being the repetitive subject of love, and the lyrics that can make you cringe, ‘Jamie Lawson’ is an enjoyable and relaxing album from Ed Sheeran’s first artist. Although it was only for a week, Jamie Lawson deservedly earned that number one spot on the album charts.