“Brexit has given rise to a lot of hatred and unkindess and I want to bring kindness back…” - hmv.com talks to Jamie Lawson
It took singer-songwriter Jamie Lawson a long time to get noticed, more than 10 years in fact, and he’s determined to take full advantage of the spotlight.
His new album The Years In Between is his third in five years and his third for Gingerbread Man Records, the label run by little known singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran. It arrives in stores today (March 29th).
We spoke to Lawson about the making of his new album, how it moves on from 2017’s Happy Accidents and his continuing relationship with Sheeran...
Did you stop after you finished recording Happy Accidents? Or have you kept writing?
“No, I didn’t stop. After releasing my record, I went straight on tour with James Blunt for a couple of months and then I had a bit of downtime before my tour started and I got on with it. I took a writing trip to Nashville, which was really fun. Then I was on tour for basically a year.”
Last time you went off to California to make the album, did you want to record in the UK this time?
“I don’t know how I wanted to make it, but I knew I wanted to make it quite quickly. I wanted to make the most of the fact that I’d played to a lot of people in front of Ed and James Blunt. We were rehearsing on the road and we had a lot of downtime, so we’d work as we went. Sometimes we went to studios and worked too. The actual recording started in Paris.”
You’ve got some high-profile co-writers on the record, Amy Wadge, who co-wrote ‘Thinking Out Loud’, Jamie Scott, who has written a lot for One Direction. Are these collaborators you’re identifying? Or are they management decisions?
“It’s a bit of everything. I’ve worked with Amy before and that was an obvious one. Jamie was somebody I knew about, I’d opened for One Direction and I sang one of their songs in my set, which was one he wrote. The Nashville guys came through publishing. Natalie Hemby was somebody I really wanted to work with, I loved her stuff on the Kacey Musgraves record.”
What’s it like to work in Nashville? From the outside, it seems like this insane country music factory, people turn up and leave with their big hits…
“It’s not just country anymore. Anybody can go there and get a song from the place. I’ve got four songs from there on the record and they’re all quite different. One is very folky, another relies on mood and beats, you can get whatever you want.”
How was working there? Did you enjoy it?
“It’s really fast. They know how to get you. You get ideas and melodies thrown at you and they don’t hold onto anything. If you don’t like something, there’s no argument, you move straight on. I loved it, I hoped I get to it again.”
What kind of album is this lyrically? Is there a theme?
“There are a few islands, but there a couple of themes. One is the idea that it’s ok to speak up. Reaching out and talking to people. I’ve spoken about that before, but I think it bears repeating. There’s some politics too. These are troubled times. I was very pro European and I want to stay part of the EU. Brexit has given rise to a lot of hatred and unkindness and I want to bring kindness back. I also wrote the title track about my Dad. He passed away when I was very young and I wanted to write about what’s he missed.”
Was The Years In Between always going to be the title?
“No, I had a few. But it made more and more sense as the record went on. I think it’s a really nice title, it could mean a lot of different things to people and I really like that. It’s also a tribute to my Dad, which is a nice thing for me.”
How’s your live set coming together? You’ve got five records now...
“What an amazing position to be in. It’s better than scraping together an hour and a half by throwing in some covers…”
“Not many people know the first record, or the second, maybe I’ll introduce them to people. But it’ll largely be drawn from the last three. That’s what people come to see.”
You’re booked up until summer with tour dates, are you doing any festivals?
“I hope I get to do a few. I’ve not got any booked yet. But my tour has taken precedent. Either I’ll be straight back to writing or I’ll tour again. I had a great time outdoors last year with Ed Sheeran so I’ve been a bit spoilt in that regard.”
How are things with Ed? He’s not getting any smaller so his time must be difficult to get…
“He gets bigger and bigger. But it’s still on his label and he’s sticking with me. I’m very happy with it.”
Is he still hands-on with you?
“He wasn’t on this record as much. We had a few days on tour where I played him songs and I was constantly sending him mixes. But he knows that I know what I want, it’s more making suggestions now. I know how unusual this is and how much respect he gives me is fantastic.”
Jamie Lawson’s new album The Years In Between is out now in hmv stores.