Charles William Thomas Lawson, to give him his full name, is a 23-year-old singer songwriter from Dover, Kent. Along with his contemporaries, Luke Jackson, Connor Downs and Andy Sharps, he studied music at Canterbury College following which he led something of an itinerant lifestyle combining his music, travel and work.
Over the past two years or so, he has become a regular face in the pub and club music scene playing a mixture well received covers and originals.
Come The Autumn is Williams first release and features four songs, three originals and one co write with Luke Jackson. The musical locality is well represented with this EP. It was recorded and mixed by Dan Lucas at his Anchor Baby Studios in the Kentish countryside and Canterbury based Luke provides backing vocals across the tracks and a little extra guitar here and there. Otherwise, it's all William, on lead vocals, acoustic and electric guitars.
Opening track Jack's Whiskey rattles in on Williams chunky rhythm guitar with some lovely little chord tickles underneath providing a bit of colour before his evocative opening couplet of 'campfires roaring, embers glowing in the air and girls are all dressed up, boys act like they don't care'. His voice is present and warm with a strong mid range and understated rasp and it is immediately clear he knows how to write songs that show off his vocals to best effect.
Title track Come The Autumn is a slightly slower affair but still has a strong rhythmic pulse with its sweet picking, alternating bass line and tale of coming home soon. It also boasts my favourite couplet on the record, the vivid imagery of 'city heart where the river ebbs and flows, boys in orange jackets are tearing up the road'.
Magnolia follows and although it features some lovely, crisply staccato electric guitar stabs and fine vocals, it feels a little too derivative to be entirely convincing as a song. Imagine the retro soul/ blues vibe of Marcus Foster and Nathaniel Rateliff and that seems to be the direction William was heading for, but didn't quite arrive.
However, Still Stumbling ends the EP on a real high. It's the longest and fullest track here and has the chance to spread and breathe with its wistful tale of lost love and regret which also manages to accommodate Williams unhealthy preoccupation with cigarettes! Great lines though, 'It was you who bought me my first ever open pack, way back when we were underage, well you got clean but nicotine it had me'. It all builds to a lovely harmony chorus with Luke then taking the second verse, which also works really well as their voices contrast beautifully.
Come The Autumn really is an example of something being much greater than the sum of its parts and it is clear a great deal of time, thought and effort has gone into this EP. The recording by Dan Lucas is exceptional, capturing the warmest, fullest of guitar sounds with Williams vocal sitting sweetly just on top of the mix. The harmonies between William and Luke are equally well captured and their very different voices compliment each other perfectly to add depth and character to the music.
The songs themselves are solid and William has a good eye for detail and a clever turn of phrase. They also hint at much more and I am looking forward to seeing how his writing develops and grows beyond his immediate influences as he turns his song writing attention to wider themes.
So, for anyone going to a William Thomas gig I would thoroughly recommend picking up a copy of this EP as a perfect bite size representation of what he has to offer and a glimpse of things to come. All in all, a good job well done.
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