As a musician, songwriter, booking agent, and chef, David Lawrence is no stranger to hustling between many jobs to pursue his passions. So when the artist, who has been the frontman for the Denver-based gypsy-jazz group Lapompe for nine years, decided to launch a solo project, he turned to his idol, Willie Dixon, for inspiration on the name.

Dixon, an influential figure in post–World War II Chicago blues, was a producer, arranger, and bassist who bridged the gap between blues and rock and roll and was one of the first American blues musicians to tour in Europe. “In my mind, it’s not just playing the gig,” Lawrence says of Dixon’s multifaceted approach to his career. “You have to do a lot to be successful, and he really exemplified that.”

So Lawrence took inspiration from one of the most iconic songs Dixon wrote and named his solo act David Lawrence and the Spoonful. On October 6, Denverites can get a taste of Lawrence’s talents via his debut folk, blues, and Americana album, Lean In, which draws on his past experiences—such as forging a new career path and falling in love—in his most personal work to date.

While Lawrence, who is involved in four bands and has played approximately 200 gigs a year for more than a decade of living in Colorado, is not new to the scene, Lean In offers new insight into his life and personality. The wistful song “Red Feather Waltz” tells a story of the time he almost didn’t get the girl, while the title track reminisces on his first kiss with his now-wife, Yuko.

During a stint as a chef at the Drala Mountain Center in Red Feather Lakes near Fort Collins in 2014, he met and fell “head over heels in love,” he says, with Yuko, who was dating another man at the time. “I remember thinking to myself, What the hell are you doing falling in love at a Buddhist retreat center?” Lawrence says. “You’re supposed to be letting go of desires and attraction.

The story has a happy ending, however—and one that became a foundational theme for the album. “I wrote this very heartfelt letter [to Yuko] about how I felt and to give me a chance, and a few weeks later, she was coming over to my cabin, and I was leaning for that first kiss, hoping she would lean back,” he says, summarizing the lyrics of the title track. Three years later, the couple married, and they welcomed their first child, a son, earlier this year.

Yuko is not only the subject of many of Lawrence’s songs, but also the one who encouraged him to leave his restaurant job to pursue music full time. During their engagement, Lawrence was working as head chef at Vine Street Pub & Brewery while also playing 20 gigs per month. But taking the leap paid off. “Once you sort of get in it and you’re doing it full time, it’s kind of hard to go back to doing anything else,” Lawrence says. “You’re a lifer.”

And yet, Lawrence’s drive and passion for other pursuits fuels his multifaceted career—just like his idol, Dixon. In between playing gigs with the Spoonful, Lapompe, and his New Orleans-inspired jazz group, Royal Street Ramblers, Lawrence also runs his own booking agency, LPJ Entertainment, which provides musical entertainment for venues and events such as Union Station and Larimer Square Holiday Market.

And of course, he still breaks out his cooking skills from time to time—like at a spring 2022 event at Asian Palate in Buena Vista, where Lawrence provided both dinner and a show for a special event called “Masala Eats & Beats.” Lawrence, who studied Indian cuisine at the Culinary Academy of India, had only 24 hours to prepare a feast for 60 people, after which the restaurant was cleared to make room for a live performance from Lawrence and the Spoonful. “[I wanted to] include my passions and give the audience something different,” he says.

But music will always be his main passion, and Lawrence’s new album draws on his roots in folk, blues, and Americana rather than the Django Reinhardt–inspired, French-style jazz that he writes for Lapompe. Lawrence says that these genres—peppered with bluegrass sensibility, courtesy of such instruments as violin and mandolin—allow his listeners to focus more closely on the lyrics and forge a deeper emotional connection to the songs, which feature themes like pursuing new love, releasing past attachments, and finding emotional resilience.

When asked what he hopes audiences will get out of listening to his music, Lawrence says: “When I was a chef, there was a saying: ‘You don’t have to be the best restaurant, you just have to be the favorite.’” In music, he interprets this to mean creating connections with listeners. “I hope there’s a vibe they resonate with,” he says. “That they get to know me in a way that is real and make a connection so I could share that music with them.”

In terms of making connections, there’s one person in the world who truly matters—and who has helped start a new chapter in his life. Lean In is dedicated to Lawrence’s newborn son, Koda (a nod to the musical term “coda,” used to identify the concluding section of a musical piece that creates a sense of balance). “My friend keeps saying this to me: ‘Man, you have this record, you have this son, and when he’s our age, he’ll be able to pull out that record and connect with you through your music,’” Lawrence says. “If he’s the only person who listens to this record, then that’s enough.”

Listen to the new album, which debuts October 6, and see upcoming tour dates for David Lawrence and the Spoonful at