Multi-versed artist Rosemary Lawton reflects on her career as a balanced musician ahead of the release of her impactful new album, Untamed
As Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, we are afforded the rare gift to have the best of both worlds musically. Traditional Irish/Newfoundland roots are sewn in to the very fabric of our sound, while a new boom of modern fusion, stylized with numerous genres and preferences, grows around us.
Trad Meets Modern
Rosemary Lawton may sum up that marriage of traditional meets modern more than any rising artist on the island today.
“My thing that I love to do is just layer sounds,” the talented artist tells The Herald. “I love warm, big sounds.”
Lawton – a quadruple threat as a songwriter, vocalist composer and occasional actress – released an acclaimed collection of tracks, Painted Glass, in late 2017. The album, which helped propel Lawton towards multiple MusicNL nominations for Celtic/Traditional and Female Artist of the Year and an ECMA nod, has opened up avenues not previously afforded when she was once known as a talented hired gun for musical acts across the province.
“As a fiddle player, the album definitely marketed me as Rosemary, which is the first time because I definitely have been a hired gun as a fiddle player, but it also put my name out there in a different way,” she explains.
“I did get contacted by Rod Jackson and Brad Tuck and started touring with them. It has just been amazing. Switching to country music for a bit, trying out new genres and trying to be as versatile as possible. It has been a lot of fun and a real challenge and I think it has helped to improve me in every facet of my music too.”
Holding a degree in Music Eduction from the MUN School of Music, coupled with stints working alongside the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra and MUN Chamber Orchestra – strengthening the classical side of her game – pair amazingly well with her love of traditional Newfoundland and Irish music, something that flows freely though her original work.
“What’s fun about this project that I’m doing now is I’m still doing the classical vein, and you definitely hear that in the counterpoint of the harmonies, but I can do it in the fiddle style, because it kind of blends together,” she says. “We call it a folk fusion or classical fusion because it crosses over so much.”
As we spoke, Lawton was in the midst of recording her newest album at Citadel House in Lewisporte.
Titled Untamed, the new record, conceptual in nature, will tell stories of empowering women through Newfoundland and Labrador’s history.
“It’s an album of songs, old songs in Newfoundland, that tell stories of empowering women in the province,” Lawton shares in the exclusive sneak peek. “I’ve been doing research and I’ve gotten help from some of the greats from Newfoundland. Anita Best, Pamela Morgan, Jim Payne. They’ve all pointed me in these certain directions.
“I’ve found songs about women who get kidnapped and have tricked their way out of being kidnapped, or women who dress up as men and go off and fight in wars or sail the seas just because they want to, and they don’t want anyone else to tell them otherwise. I have ones on women who are just tired of being treated poorly and want to break out or are tired of waiting around for someone who doesn’t love them and care about them and they just don’t want to be treated that way anymore. All of the songs are really empowering, tell some amazing stories and are all Newfoundland.”
Scheduled to be released in mid to late June, the ambitious and deeply personal record is the latest step for an artist who has taken the necessary steps – with boots on the ground and hours clocked in – towards becoming a more well-versed artist in every facet of the game.
For more on Rosemary Lawton, including music and tour dates, visit rosemarylawton.com