“Your body is a wonderland”. This solitary lyric is capable of eliciting a range of emotion from pop music wonderment, to eye rolling nausea. One thing that cannot be denied is how catchy – or infectious depending on your musical bent – this line is and how well it has stood up over time. Perhaps it makes you think of your high school days (maybe running through the halls of?. . . Sorry, I couldn’t resist) or an ex who you have pushed out of your mind for good reason. No matter the response, it is lodged firmly in your brain as well as about a billion others. There are certain songs you cannot simply forget, no matter how hard you try.
Enter singer-songwriter Max Gowan. The Raleigh, North Carolina native recently released his debut EP “Restless Heaven” which is an easy going nod to John Mayer’s Room For Squares. The seventeen-year-old Max plays with the same confident nonchalance as those twice his age and shares the same melancholy dating sensibilities of Katy Perry’s beau. “Half Soul” fits in this wheelhouse and could easily be found on an old Mayer demo. “Bricks and Cobblestone” finds the singer musing on life and meaning; “I am alive and well, as far as I can tell. It’s paradise and hell that we create for ourselves.” The best compliment I can give on this particular track is that I never saw him as being limited by his age or life experience. He writes as someone who might just know a thing or two about life and the listener is better for paying close attention.
Gowan credits legends like Wilco and Ryan Adams as influencing his EP, and fits well in their company with perhaps a hint of Jason Mraz. His music is best enjoyed on a rainy coffee drenched evening spent in a darkly lit corner away from the world. What is most exciting about listening to “Restless Heaven” is the sense that the artist’s best songs lay ahead of him, and with any luck, he might write that one song that sticks with you. The listener gets the sense that he is more than capable of writing a “Wonderland” type hit and maybe even dating Taylor Swift . . .though for his sake, I sincerely advise against it.