Prince Edward Island musician Lawrence Maxwell releases his third studio album

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When Max Koughan arrived at the chalet with his band, he knew it was the perfect place to record his new album.

The remote log cabin in Fort Augustus, Prince Edward Island, belonged to the band’s producer, Adam Gallant.

The band immediately got to work, putting all the song titles on the album into a hat and randomly selecting the next song to record.

“We had been playing those songs live at gigs for over a year, and I knew those songs sounded so good live,” Koughan said during an interview with Saltwire Network. “I thought we had to record it like we’re playing it now because it’s a special moment and it needs to be captured.”

A week later, the band had recorded all of the hat songs.

“Recording like that kept it spontaneous. It kept us on our toes and we didn’t overthink things. It was like, here’s the song, let’s do it. The catches came very quickly that way.

The psychedelic-themed album cover for Ballad of Miles was designed by island artist Aidan Searle. – Contributed

On January 21, Koughan, better known by his stage name Lawrence Maxwell, released his third country studio album with the Family Band, titled Ballad of Miles.

“Seventy-five percent of the album was cut live from the cabin floor,” Koughan said.

“I wanted to go back to the old school ways. It was a bit daunting, but overall I think it was worth it. I would definitely do it again.

start playing

Koughan started playing music eight years ago when he was 20 years old.

At the time, his two half-brothers, Josh and Sam Langille, were both musicians and played in local bands.

“My dad played a lot of music growing up,” Koughan said.

Koughan had spent four years in the navy and was looking for a new path.

“I was out of the navy looking for a direction to explore at full capacity,” he said.

Max Koughan performs live as Lawrence Maxwell and the Family Band.  - Contributed
Max Koughan performs live as Lawrence Maxwell and the Family Band. – Contributed

One day, his friend, Brandon Hood, asked Koughan if he wanted to sing karaoke with him at a local bar. The two attended and quickly found a niche in country music.

“We experimented with rock and a few different things, but eventually landed on a country sound,” Koughan said. “I have a bit of country lineage in the family. I think of my grandmother in her truck smoking a cigarette while listening to George Jones.

Shortly after, Koughan formed the band, Lawrence Maxwell and Family Band with Josh Langille on drums and Sam Langille on bass. Ben Aitken also joined the band on keyboards and Justyn Young on guitar.

Their debut album, Not Your Outlaw, was released in 2018. At the time, Koughan used money from a canceled trip to Europe to buy studio time.

“We would walk into the office and record one or two songs, whatever we could afford and kind of take it,” Koughan said.

The album received positive reviews, with listeners noting its classic country twang and silly sense of humor paired with strong lyrics and tight production.

In 2019, Koughan released his second album, Almost Natural, with the song, Unfinished Business, receiving over 100,000 streams on Spotify. The album was nominated for Country Music Album of the Year at the 2021 East Coast Music Awards in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

For the occasion, Koughan released the single Back to Cape Breton, which received over 5,000 streams on Spotify, with the music video also having over 3,000 views on Youtube.

“The song was about all my good times camping in Cape Breton with friends, so I felt like the timing was right to release it then,” Koughan said.

third album

Soon after, Koughan began planning the release of her third album, Ballad of Miles.

“We hadn’t been together as a band in the recording studio since the pandemic hit, so the energy was really special that way,” he said.

The inspiration for the album’s name came from the album’s title track, which Koughan wrote about her rediscovery experience of running.

“I was spending a lot of time running on the trails, and a lot of different song ideas came to mind,” Koughan said. “The character of Miles grew out of that experience. It became a pun on the miles traveled, but also on the character’s name.

Initially, the song was written in the first person, with Koughan later rewriting the song to take a more narrative approach.

“It’s not something I normally do, only to completely start over once I’ve finished a song,” Koughan said. “I felt like there was a way to capture that experience in a song, but I didn’t feel like I would be the only one going through it. So Miles became the character and I’m become the narrator.

The album is Koughan’s most diverse project to date, with songs like Better You incorporating elements of rock, while the song, Baby-Making Music, takes on a funky, pop sound.

“I wanted to reference the rolling stone energy in the instrumental,” Koughan said.

The album also manages to stay true to Koughan’s country roots, with songs like Listening to Keith Whitley and Beer Song (More to Life) taking on a more classic traditional country sound.

Koughan hasn’t been shy about showing his softer side on the project either, with Happy Little Life being dedicated to his partner.

“A lot of songs can be sentimental and some of them can be funny, but I think there’s always a degree of silliness, and that’s just how I express myself to the people I love” , said Koughan.

At the time of the album cover, Koughan approached his friend, artist Aiden Searle, who had designed Koughan’s two previous album covers.

“I gave him a list of songs and little ideas, and he went off and made this kind of country version of the Jimi Hendrix experience,” Koughan said. “A lot of the images behind Miles are lyrics to various songs.”

Koughan released Ballad of Miles on January 21 on Spotify and Apple Music. His biggest achievement from the project was the experience gained during the recording process, he said.

“I think that was the biggest takeaway for me – I was just a little scared that I couldn’t get out of it that way and I’d be wasting my time, but also equal confidence that it was the a good time to try something like this,” he said. “My gut was telling me, this is how it should be created.”

Koughan’s album release party is scheduled for March 12 at Trailside Music Hall in Charlottetown. Tickets are available in line.

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