“Lovely War” cover art. Image courtesy of Owen Conforte

Although it was released on New Year’s Day, Owen Conforte’s EP “Lovely War” has just recently found its way to my ears, and the timing is perfect because the fun, upbeat tunes are indeed putting a spring in my step as we cross the threshold of the equinox.

Conforte is a singer, songwriter and guitarist based in Lewiston, and his sound is fresh with crisp, clear vocals and stellar musicianship. I’ve seen him several times playing as guitarist in The Fogcutters, and he never disappoints.

I don’t trust early spring in Maine as far as I can throw it; however, I sure do believe in the five songs I’ve been listening to over the last several days. These are the kind of pop songs that make me want to roll the windows down on a Saturday afternoon and not worry about who hears me singing along.

Listening to “Lovely War” is a masterclass in songwriting, song arranging and upper-level artistry. Conforte seems to instinctively know just the right amount of effects to use (minimal) and his guitar, bass, keys, drums and vocals are all outstanding. He digs in when he needs to and other times lets the song float along its own for-the-love-of-music path.

My current favorite (it rotates daily) is the sweet track “Stuttering.” Conforte captures that feeling of awkward shyness we’ve all experienced when the right person smiles at us. There’s a nifty synth break midway through, and the song is an audible ice cream soda.

I didn’t know where to focus
That’s when you took your hand and grabbed onto mine
I turned my head and that’s when I noticed, you were talking to me
Now I should say something, I was stuttering, stuttering
This never happens to me

“A Million Things” is a love-soaked declaration that bounces along a sometimes funky path that will make its way from your ears to your hips, which you can’t help but sway or shake to the beat. Conforte also hits us with a crackerjack electric guitar solo. Again, this guy can really do it all.

“It Feels Like” is yet another feather in the cap of “Lovely War,” and it’s got new romance film montage written all over it. “Path To Better” is a life affirmation packed into a five-minute tune. As for the title track, it spins the tale of a rocky relationship in need of repair and Conforte’s vocals are particularly strong.

Owen Conforte Photo by Dear Jenna Photography

Conforte grew up in Lovell, where his living room doubled as a practice space for his father and his bandmates. When Conforte turned 12, he had had enough of just watching and listening and asked his dad for guitar lessons. The pair started trading blues riffs and Beatles songs, which served as a springboard for a middle school five-piece cover band that was founded and coached by a church minister in Fryeburg.

Along with being a Fogcutter, Conforte fronts the band OC and the Offbeats, which released the album “Looking Up” in 2015. He also has played with many local acts including Dean Ford & The Beautiful Ones and Jason Ward & The West End Mules (and is on Ward’s 2018 album). His list of musical influences includes Jimi Hendrix, Allen Stone, Leon Bridges and Chromeo.

Conforte plays every instrument on “Lovely War.” He recorded, mixed and mastered it entirely on his own during several months of lockdown last year.

“Lovely War” is available on all major streaming platforms and digitally for sale on iTunes and Amazon.

Find Conforte online at owenconforteofficial.com and facebook.com/owenconfortemusic.

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