"I wanted the visuals to contrast this bouncy, summer kind of driving song," Dawson tells PEOPLE

Devin Dawson has a dark, brooding side that he’s quite comfortable with. So when it came time to shoot a video for his debut song, the infectious “All on Me,” he thought the Tennessee State Penitentiary would be the perfect back drop for the lighthearted love song.

“The cool thing is there’s three characters. It’s me, the girl and the prison,” Dawson tells PEOPLE of shooting the clip at the historical prison, which has been closed since 1992. “It’s all overgrown and there’s foreboding skies. The whole idea of the video is it’s apocalyptic kind of times — it’s like the world’s about to end and it’s just me and the girl.”


“I wanted the visuals to contrast this bouncy, summer driving song,” he says. “It’s playing off of that first line: ‘Hey, I know the woes and the weight of the world can get you down, but don’t let it.’ So essentially, it’s like, ‘Hey, I know it’s the end and there’s nothing we can do about it, so I’m here for you, come lean on me.’ ”

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And while this is Dawson’s first full production video, he does have some pretty impressive previous experience. The first video he ever starred in has nearly 35 million views — thanks to Taylor Swift.


“I did this Taylor Swift cover video with my friend Louisa [Wendorff], who I met the first day in my dorm at Belmont University. We did a cover of ‘Blank Space’ and ‘Style,’ ” recalls Dawson. “My twin brother recorded it and our friend shot a quick video. We just did it to share because we liked it and we thought we had something special,” he says. “A couple days later, Taylor Swift saw it somehow and Tweeted it, Facebooked it and all this stuff — and it literally was the craziest viral thing I’ve ever seen.”

It served as a life lesson on the power of Taylor Swift.

“It’s unreal to me,” he says. “She literally said one word. She said ‘Obsessed,’ and then posted the link to the video and it changed my life.”

Catch Dawson, who will release his debut album later this year, on the road this month with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill on select dates of their Soul2Soul Tour.