“I love pop music,” says Alabama singer-songwriter Michael Lawson. “I love pop songs!”
Lawson attributes his love of pop music to the diversity of artists and genres he listened to growing up in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. The common denominators were great songwriting, great melodies and identifiable song structures. Lawson notes: “Back in the day, record covers often doubled as lyric sheets, and those sheets typically divided songs into parts like verse, pre-chorus, chorus, bridge, release, and so forth. Learning those terms as a young kid enabled me to study the art of songwriting. That knowledge became my musical foundation.”
As a performing musician, Lawson’s musical journey began as a teenager in his hometown of Seattle, Washington in the 1980’s where he fronted a pre-grunge band called SGM that sold nearly 30,000 units on Medusa (Capitol) Records. After leaving the band to attend college, Lawson returned to Seattle in 1992 and co-founded an alt-rock band with Lawson serving as a lead songwriter and rhythm guitarist. After generating significant local buzz in the Seattle Music Scene, that band disbanded in 1995 when the band’s lead singer suddenly left the band to pursue other interests. So, what happened next?
“I was so heartbroken I took about a 25-year break.”
Enter 2019, when Lawson returned to music as a singer-songwriter. “I got divorced and wanted to return to my life goal of becoming a professional recording artist. I played open mics and then when the pandemic hit, I cold called Rodney Hall at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals Alabama and asked him if I could record there. I sent him a demo, and he and his studio manager hooked me up with some amazing players. My life was forever changed.”
But how, exactly?
“Playing with session guys of that caliber gave me a new way to think about songwriting. Since those guys could play everything, it meant that I could write anything. And because we all mesh so well as a band in the studio, the songs always seem to work.”
Three EP’s later, Lawson is now releasing his fourth effort, this time a 12 song LP. “The goal,” he says. “was to write a collection of songs that captured the history and spirit of the music of the Tennessee River.” Produced by Jimbo Hart (Jason Isbell), the new record, Tennessee River Shakedown, features an eclectic group of songs that elicit the vibes and feel of legendary artists like Boz Scaggs, Bob Seger, Elvis, the Allman Brothers, as well as others familiar to the Shoals.
Lawson concludes, “Jimbo Hart is an amazing musician and producer. With the help of the great folks at FAME, we tracked a group of tunes that feel timeless enough to be covered by other artists. The key now is to find the folks who can blow this thing up and out. The songs are great, and I for one, am ready to go to work.” Listen, love, and feel.