Let me say first that I like to write my reviews with a sense of imagery, putting you in a special and specific mental place as you listen. “Light Shine In,” the new indie soul/indie rock tune by singer/songwriter Conor Gains, gave me two very distinct places to go— and it’s all thanks to the very unique mix of influences he uses that makes it easy to listen to and enjoy, but difficult to pigeonhole into one specific genre.
This specific mix of R&B, soul, and just a touch of gritty stomp-and-holler folk gives it a familiar feel nestled comfortably on the wide spectrum between KALEO and Lianne La Havas. Its lively energy gets you moving along with the beat, but the longing and heart within the vocal inflection adds a sensual, soulful flair. What ties all these sounds together is the key section— both the piano and organ: think Arsonist’s Lullaby by Hozier and how those keys create such a distinct mood and raise the stakes within the song. The keys in “Light Shine In” do the same thing, creating a sense of urgency to heighten the desire conveyed within the lyrics.
Now let’s try this imagery. This song feels both like a roaring bonfire in the remote woods of Vermont, lined with autumn colors, its smoke rising to a clear starry sky; but then it also feels like a gritty dive bar with billiards, smoke in the air, and dim, mysterious lighting that’s almost sexy. There’s an element of mystique in this song that draws me to darkness and smoke, but the light that shines through is bright and infectious enough to make you want to dance.
Conor Gains is a multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter from Ontario, Canada. Beginning his career at the age of 13, the now 27-year-old artist has blazed a trail so distinct it might as well be a brick road. From being invited on stage with Les Paul, to playing the Montreal Jazz Fest, to winning the Cobalt Prize Contemporary Blues Composition Award, Gains has done it all, but is still only getting started. “Light Shine In” is a sneak preview into his upcoming EP, “Three,” set to release on April 16th.
Written by Jess Ward