Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1097

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Feature

Jarrod Lawson: Going Back To The Future

Jarrod Lawson interview @bluesandsoul.com
Jarrod Lawson interview @bluesandsoul.com Jarrod Lawson interview @bluesandsoul.com Jarrod Lawson interview @bluesandsoul.com Jarrod Lawson interview @bluesandsoul.com

It's fair to say that Redwood, California born and since the age of 8, Portland native, Jarrod Lawson, seemed to come out of nowhere to take the jazz-soul world by storm in 2014, after the release of his eponymous debut album on one of the UK's longest-serving stalwarts of soul music, Dome Records.

Within a couple of years, the one time stonemason and piano tuner had performed and sold out some of the most prestigious indoor venues in the UK and wowed huge crowds at festivals across Europe. On the back of this success, there was also a quickie "Jarrod Lawson At The BBC" release in 2015. Upon returning to the US, there was yet more success at an array of jazz establishments and further afield, Japan and Australia had also taken a liking to Lawson's golden tones.

I was lucky enough to share a Zoom call recently - hey, that's how we roll these days due to COVID - with the man himself. Lawson has a new 'Jarrod Lawson' album to promote and it's like he hasn't missed a beat when you compare his debut with his new sophomore release "Be The Change" (the album title is clue 2! Lol). The first thing that strikes me is that apart from his beaming smile and relaxed demeanour, Lawson has let his hair down! Literally. He's grown his hair longer and is looking more hippy-chic than the clean-cut, boy next door he was 5-years ago. In fact, it's not far from what he looked like on his debut album cover, before he was sculpted and morphed into the look that came next. When I comment on his appearance, Lawson's reply was emphatic "I'm getting back to the old me. It just feels like the more authentic me. I feel like the last 6-years of my career, since I dropped my last record, I just feel like I've been nudged and pushed in certain ways to be something that wasn't authentic to me" Lawson is quick to add as he looks down at himself "this, is more me. I grew up in the country, I'm kind of a hippy you know. I'm just getting back to being my 'authentic' self and it's been really good". I can already see that life is good as Lawson confirms ”I’m really good. You know, there's a lot of changing things happening right now… moving out of a chapter and into a new chapter, kind of like growing pains in the music. [We are] in the middle of moving. We're moving more into the city of Portland, a much nicer location and nearer to my girlfriend's work and closer to, someday, when gigs start happening again".

So it's all change for Jarrod Lawson and he's found his authentic side that was seemingly misplaced after the last album. Now he admits that this time musically, he had a hand from a percussion royal to hone his desired sound, “[it was] the coming together with Sammy Figueroa which has changed my sound in certain ways. There's a handful of songs on the album that he plays on… we didn't necessarily compose them jointly but he influenced the way that I was sort of thinking about music. "Be The Change", the last track "How Long" and a few of the others, they have his imprint on them, it's pretty obvious". Lawson's admiration continues "in my mind, I think he elevated my sound in a certain way - I've always been interested in Latin rhythms and I think everybody probably already knows that and could detect that from some of the songs on my first record - it's the territory that I like to dabble in pretty consistently. But, to bring someone like him on board who is a bonafide Latin percussionist, he can play with the best of them… anyone on the planet. To have somebody like that in the mix, he just elevated everybody in the band to another level and his biography is mind-boggling".

The album “Be The One” and initial single of the same name are out on Dome Records.

You can read more from B&S Editor Lee Tyler's interview with jazz-soul star, Jarrod Lawson, including more on his sophomore album "Be The One", the catalyst behind his return to form, working with Moonchild and his thoughts on his "Blue-Eyed Soul Boy Jazz" moniker. All in the latest issue of Blues & Soul magazine - click the 'BUY NOW' link below to order straight from the B&S shop or read on for high street retailer details...

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ESSENTIAL LINKS:

TWITTER: JLawSings

INSTAGRAM jlawsings

FACEBOOK facebook/JarrodLawsonMusic

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Words LEE TYLER

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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