Pop’s surreal side has been the headline in 2021, whether it’s coming via the postmodern composing ideals of the indie rock community or a generation of rappers uninterested in the plaintive hooks their predecessors experimented with. There’s no end to the cerebral content that underground artists are submitting to the masses for approval this summer, but if you’re more inclined towards the straightforwardness of an old fashioned pop model, a player like Chris Donohoe might have just what you’ve been looking for in his new EP Let the Light In, Vol. 2. Let the Light In, Vol. 2 is a cathartic offering that compiles five self-aware pop songs that are neither synthetically faceted nor devoid of emotional honesty, and best of all, complexities are left on the sidelines entirely.
In the record’s lead single, which is also its title track, we get to find out how relevant a classical pop arrangement can be when it’s got a skilled singer at the helm of the project, and I must say, the results of Donohoe’s effort here immediately put a smile on my face. “Loneliness” and “The Way of Love” are similarly black and white, but it’s only in the single that we get a complete grasp of the independence this singer/songwriter enjoys from componentry his peers would just as soon stylize an entire album around. He doesn’t need the extras when he gets into the studio – give this guy a mic and some quality instruments and he’ll give you beautiful music.
Listen to Let the Light In, Vol. 2 on Spotify. Chris Donohoe · Single · 2021 · 5 songs.
“Your Story” and “Cut Too Deep” aren’t hook-centric but have plenty of melodic fireworks worth bragging over, mostly centering on the vocal performance Donohoe breaks off in both tracks. He’s so adept at slinking through these grooves that it’s as though he’s been rehearsing this material since he was a kid, waiting for the right moment to share it with an audience desperate for some kind of pop pick-me-up. As a vocalist, he’s more in the zone here than I was anticipating he would be, and if it’s showcasing even a fraction of what he could bring onto the live stage with him in the future, I wouldn’t want to be one of the unlucky folks without a ticket to see him play in concert.
I must admit, I always come into self-released pop content with a bit of skepticism just because of how flush the market is with premium talent at the moment, but when it comes to an artist as gifted as Chris Donohoe, even a casual listen can turn a hardened critic into a believer in his sound. His melodic profile is a diamond in the rough while the way he goes about recording his music should be considered a new standard for the numerous indie players trying to make a name for themselves on either side of the American underground this year, but he’s not being overly cocky about his skills in Let the Light In, Vol. 2. Donohoe is a musician’s musician and potentially a pop enthusiast’s best friend this season, and that much is quite obvious when listening to this record.