Times aren’t like they used to be. Back in the ’90s, record execs fronted big dough to a lucky few acts to make full-length blockbuster debuts. Now, the market is swimming with opportunistic songwriters and rock bands, and everybody’s dropping smaller sets. These EPs have only a small window of time to gain your attention. Which is all to say: You’d better make your shot count.

With Welterweight, backwoods Maine native Doug Cowan brings a heartfelt version of this urgency to six good to great alt-country tunes. Cowan sounds loose and confident, his voice is strong, and the lyrics don’t distract. Thank goodness that he can also write the knickers off a pop song, too.

“Remember the Maine” busts out of the gate with practiced radio jangle: Big verses, with gnarly Joe Perry bends in the guitars, beget bigger choruses. “Hilo” kicks up dust in a barn, while on “Girl Friday,” bap-ba-dah back-up singers sound like indulgent Tom Petty. Somehow, it works really well.

An EP like this is almost designed as an audition to continue. Gain fans, endear ears to your sound, and you get to make more music. Doug Cowan’s Welterweight project has a strong start. His focus through six songs should only intensify when he can pour his talent into a legitimate long-play album.

Mike Olcott is a freelance writer.


filed under: