“My Kind,” the latest track from Raleigh, North Carolina artist Max Gowan, carries on his penchant for slick, homemade guitar pop, here with echoes of Yo La Tengo. It’s the first single from his upcoming album Last Companion, and while he originally came up with the breezy instrumental in the summer of 2019, Gowan says the words didn’t start to flow until later.
“I left it sitting around because I couldn’t get any lyrics to work with it. Then after a few months, I pulled up the instrumental and the words came a lot more naturally,” he says. “It’s loosely based on a time several years ago when I had a long chat with a friend who was going through a lot of really tough circumstances. The song is mostly about being in awe of the resiliency of loved ones and wondering if you would have that same resiliency in their shoes.”
To fill out that personal narrative, Gowan enlisted the help of friends near and far. He recorded a vocal and instrumental feature from housemate Caroline White, the singer/songwriter behind indie pop project Infinity Crush and half of the ambient electronic duo High Bloom.
“I had never had someone other than me sing a feature part on one of my songs, and I’ve always really liked her music as Infinity Crush,” says Gowan. “Her voice worked perfectly for the song, and she also wrote and played a really great French horn line.”
He also remotely coordinated extra guitar from Nate Wagner of Leeaves and Lord Bendtner. “He lives in New York, so we swapped files electronically, and he sent some really beautiful stuff,” Gowan says. Taken with the mid-tempo beat and starry synths, it adds up to a refreshing rock reflection.
“My Kind” stands out from the rest of Last Companion–it’s one of the record’s poppier moments, by Gowan’s assessment, but it also departs from the project’s lyrical themes, which deliberately take a less introspective approach. Compared to his past work, he wanted to draw from more circumstances and stories beyond his own.
“I set out with a conscious intention to look a little more outward than inward on this album, and that’s why a lot of the lyrics are written from the perspectives of characters.” he says. “This song is a little more personal to me and my friends. It’s kind of like a splash of cold water on the fantasy of the rest of the album.”
But though songs like “My Kind” deal more directly with his own feelings, he says the construct of fiction allows this record to get more personal still.
“Ironically, I’m probably revealing more about myself when I write songs about other people.”
Last Companion is slated for June 5, 2020 release on all digital platforms, and as a limited edition cassette via Slovakian indie label Z Tapes.