Even as a child, Michael Paul Lawson was never really all that far away from music. Born to a family with a complex history littered with band leaders, classically trained academics, and brass band icons, he initially strove to follow in that storied musical lineage. However, complications within his family and pressure to follow a more corporate career path led him to temporarily abandon his dreams of being a musician, moving from northern New York to Long Island to pursue this commercial work.
Some years later, however, riddled with student loan debt and exhausted from the numbness that settled into his bones during his tenure on Long Island, he moved to Norfolk, Virginia. This dramatic change of scenery provided him with the mental clarity and motivation to begin making music again. With the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west, he discovered a renewed creativity through his environment, creating intricate Americana ballads of deceptive loveliness and prose fueled by the raw beauty of his surroundings. He began playing these songs in bars across Virginia, working out their innate magic with each performance.
After sets at the Norfolk Folk Festival and providing opening support for artists like The Steel Wheels and Sons of Bill, his music found its way into the hands of producer Daniel Mendez, who subsequently invited Lawson to Austin, Texas to record his debut EP. That 8-song collection, entitled “Some Fights You’ll Never Win,” will be released on July 12.
Lawson offers a glimpse of what’s to come with “Wolf by the Tail,” a track that deals with the consequences of toxic relationships and how we often cling to idealistic archetypes rather than to the realities of a flawed human being. Framed by acoustic guitar, shuffling percussion and delicate piano lines, Lawson provides the perfect musical counterpoint to his lyrics, developing a rhythmic sustain and release that echoes the hesitant movement and emotional uncertainty of the narrative. It builds to something approaching cathartic self-realization – even if that realization is that you’ll never truly understand the measure and machinations of your own desires.