It was feeling like summer just the other day (at a sweltering 50 degress), so I guess why not highlight a record that feels a lot like a carefree summer to me. Sawyer Lawson’s ‘Shine’ does just that…brings a bit of light to an otherwise gray winter.
Sawyer Lawson was up here on the Red Line a while back with a preview of his tune “The Driving Song”. As I said “A great summer time jam. Lyrically is doesn’t take itself too seriously. Some fun takes on the driving theme that the sonic quality of the track lends itself to so well. It’s one of those nice weather songs that will dig itself into your brain and you will be humming a week later and be glad you are.”…and the rest of this record follows that template for me. Carefree, upbeat, and happy in its own way.
“Shine” is a tune that I gravitate towards. It has a timeless quality about it…it reminds me a lot of the music of my dear friend Eric Lichter. It is very clear that the songwriter pays attention to every little detail in his arrangements, his phrasing, and his hooks.
Songs like “Shoeshine” put a bit of a showman vibe on display. A Michael Buble-esque quality enters the tone and annunciation in the singer-songwriters voice. Coupled with the horns belting in the background, you get yourself a regular old Vegas show coming through your headphones. I’m brought back to the smoky bars in New Orleans at the outro section.
Sawyer has surrounded himself with a cast of all-star musicians and it shows on the arrangements contained within these tunes. The highlights of the record happen for me in songs like ‘Winter Glow’ where there is a back and forth between the intricate picking of Forrest O’Connor and finesse of Mark Whitaker’s banjo. But cannot sell Lawson’s guitar prowess short.
Lawson has a strong voice with a soft breeziness, but crispness to it’s tone. If you are a fan of Jack Johnson or Ben Harper type pop-folk-rock, this is probably straight up your alleyway. It’s a bit more complex than the bar chord upstroke stuff you get with fellas like that, but it falls into the realm for me. Well, actually, a WHOLE LOT more complex, the dude is a great guitar player. Perhaps some early John Mayer…think the great guitar playing style on songs like “Neon”, not so much the “Your Body is a Wonderland” cheese but that impressive picking technique. Hints of jazz, popular rock, and very distant hints of reggae and funk even at times. He is a master at blending multi-genres together into his sound. Overall a bit more poppy that I typically lend my ear to, but solid musicianship and performances nonetheless. It’s fun music and the fact that the band and the musician is having fun shines through in the songs noticeably…infectious to the listener. The recording is very clean, it is clear and extremely done.
Check out Sawyer online at: http://sawyerlawson.com/about