INTERVIEW: REN LAWTON | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Melding intimate lyrics with the type of gentle production that wraps around you and keeps you warm, Today Today Tomorrow, the new album by Newcastle-based singer-songwriter Ren Lawton, may well be a micro encapsulation of the beliefs and values of the North.

Brave and ambitious, yet demonstrating stoic levels of privacy and humility, Today Today Tomorrow breezes into the room with the ambience of a warm Northumberland evening; seeking to find new friends and make strong connections, whilst never looking to push its own agenda or drive up its own uniqueness.

Never one to force his music to the front of the queue, even encouraging Lawton to blow his own trumpet about the concept and intent for the album proves difficult; “On its own the words ‘Today Today Tomorrow’ can be thought provoking and confusing. It’s not meant to mean anything really. If you listen to those words in the context of the song they come from then you can attribute meaning to them. But what that is, is for the listener to decide.”

Building on the clever, concise songwriting style shown off by Lawton on his early single Piece Of Your Heart, his album pushes Lawton’s sound and experimentation further out, whilst maintaining an emotive, personal grounding. Sparkling in places with sonic experimentations (including multi-tracked vocals, lo-fi brass compositions and high in the mix gentle vocals), the ten tracks all seemed designed to fully support Lawton’s cool, calm and almost lullaby-esque vocal and its intimate ability to reassure you that things will be alright if you just breathe and stay calm.

Most of the songs are about personal experiences or contain dressed up political or societal observations, and I wanted the listener to really feel like they were getting to know me on some level

A lot of the intimacy comes from keeping the writing and recording process involving as few people as possible,” continues Lawton. “Most of the songs are about personal experiences or contain dressed up political or societal observations, and I wanted the listener to really feel like they were getting to know me on some level. You want to be able to get up close to the mic and sing it like you mean it without feeling like you’re being judged.”

Standout track Willow, a tearjerker layered with orchestral sounds and strong production, gives some glimpse of a future direction for Lawton, though it’s still rooted in a humility which maybe be the perfect tonic for his creativity. The song came about after receiving some unwanted attention at a party. I remember waking up the next morning feeling quite overwhelmed, sad and missing an ex-girlfriend deeply. The orchestral section added to the end of the song is really a musical representation of the cyclical nature of life and love in many ways. It starts off with a simple melody that flourishes into a full string section which in turn slowly dwindles back to the original melody before fading out.”

Lawton is already thinking about Today Today Tomorrow’s follow up, though as is his wont, he’s reluctant to say too much about it just yet or to blow his own trumpet too loudly – only hinting at where it might be going. “As this is my debut album and the songs were selected over years and years writing, my intent was to say ‘I’m here, I’m a musician and I’m making music’. I’m sure that album number two, written in a shorter amount of time, will have a more particular concept and intent.

Regardless of future endeavours, we’re left with the impression that Ren Lawton may be a humble songwriter, but the glint in his eye demonstrates a confidence and mature talent that’s hard to deny.

Ren Lawton releases Today Today Tomorrow on 23rd February. He plays Little Buildings, Newcastle on Friday 25th February.

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