2015 stands as a major year for Jamie Lawson’s career. As both the first new artist signed onto Ed Sheeran’s own Gingerbread Man Records label and Sheeran’s support act on his latest tour, he’s gaining a level of exposure that feels well overdue considering his twelve year career. In a sense, that also means there’s a lot riding on this self-titled album; now that the world’s watching, its quality is twice as important.
He’s more than hit the ball out of the park here. Jamie Lawson is a gentle album true to his singer-songwriter roots, dripping with ballads and mid-tempos, rarely rising above an acoustic setting but highlighting his voice and song writing skills perfectly. When he sets out to tell a story, it’s especially affecting: Wasn’t Expecting That may be considerably old compared to the other songs, first appearing on the album of the same name in 2011 before being rereleased, but its retelling of a relationship across its entire lifespan is still as powerful today as it was then. The sheer minimalism of the acoustic ballad In Our Own Worlds highlights its sentimental lyrics perfectly, and makes for the most powerful moment on the album; Lawson is at his best when working with the sheer minimum accompaniment.
These songs can get to be a little overwhelming though, in both subject and number. Thankfully, the bright and upbeat songs save the album from being too overbearing. Ahead of Myself diverts the album into a real pop moment, still following the acoustic trend but adding trumpets and a full arrangement into the mix for the chorus to give it a refreshing vibe; it has some of the album’s most endearing lyrics, to boot. The Only Conclusion starts on a slow note with a slow string progression and mid-tempo beat, but slowly builds into a gigantic arrangement topping its acoustic backdrop with trumpets and harps, making for something undeniably cheesy—I’ve done all the maths / It all adds up to us / It’s you and me—but also triumphant and endearing—The only conclusion is love.
Jamie Lawson is a deceptively powerful album. While it might not hit you straight away, the depth of his lyrics and the songs themselves will take you by surprise if you allow yourself to be immersed in the experience. At worst, the quality of Ahead of Myself leaves you wishing this side of his sound was explored more. The album mostly leaves you in awe, though; Lawson well and truly proves the extent of his talents here, and it’s more than obvious that he deserves all the success that will come his way.