Humility is the name of the game for Jamie Lawson. An art school dropout from Plymouth, England, the singer-songwriter roved around Ireland and the U.K. for years, warming the hearts of many with his velvety voice and knack for old-fashioned storytelling through song. He opened for British pop sensation Ed Sheeran on tour and, most unpredictably, boy band One Direction. "I thought it was a joke when I got the call," he told Rolling Stone while in New York City. "But they were very kind… And they didn't have to be."
It was in 2010 when he met Sheeran, who he'd played shows with in London. "Then he became ridiculously famous, sold millions of records," says Lawson. Four years later, Sheeran booked a secret show in Dublin, where he invited Lawson to open for him and he later asked him to join his tour. "We got on very well," Lawson explains. "It was like no time had passed. He had gone through all this stuff, but was the same kid. [Fame] would've changed a lot of people, shifted how they are to other people. He didn't seem too affected. He's very free with his time; he's a lovely guy."
Lawson would become the first artist signed under Sheeran's own label, Gingerbread Man Records, through which Lawson released his 2015 self-titled album, which has since reached gold in the U.K. "The record's quite soppy," he says. "But I'm fine with that. I wanted to make a modern-day [Van Morrison's] Moondance. "
The lead single off Lawson's latest record, "Wasn't Expecting That," was a hit in multiple countries, despite its plotline: a folky ode to lovers growing old together, the magic ends when one dies of a mystery illness. "[The song] was almost a shock to me," he says. "I thought, 'That's too cruel.' But if you're in a life-long relationship, someone's gonna go first. It's sad… It happens every day. But you want to look back on it like, 'We got all this! We shared it all… This life.'"
In the meantime, Lawson's already writing his next record, which he describes as "dirtier", "rootsy" and "organic." He's currently touring through Australia and New Zealand but, with new songs to write, he prefers less party and more chill vibes on the road. "My tour riders are not very rock & roll," he says, with a laugh. "I [ask for] carrots, hummus, kiwi fruit and tea. And it usually comes without a cup, or a kettle, or milk. So I can't actually make the tea!"