In an ideal situation, the title cut of any given record should summarize the feel of the entire tracklist without overwhelming the listener with detail. It’s arguably the most important composition found on the average pop EP and LP the same, and this is most definitely true of the namesake song in Chris Donohoe’s new disc Let the Light In, Vol. 2. “Let the Light In” takes the essence of the extended play it shares a title with and drives it home to us in roughly three minutes’ time, and from where I sit it’s a true identity single in Donohoe’s growing discography of accessible pop tunes.
The lyrics in this track feel uplifting largely because of the tone in which they’re delivered, and I think that if a different singer were crooning them to us, they might not have had the same effect they do in this setting. There are a lot of layers to this narrative beyond the cosmetic optimism that exists in the melody and verses forming the chorus, and it’s only through Donohoe’s cautious execution that we’re able to really understand how much he’s trying to get out to anyone willing to listen.
“Let the Light In” isn’t defined by any one trait but instead an amalgamation of elements uncommon in most of the pop/rock you’ll hear casually browsing the Top 40 this week. The evenhanded instrumentation makes even the more rigid parts in the groove feel seamlessly constructed, and with regards to his confidence level, Donohoe is setting an example a lot of his younger contemporaries in pop would do well to try and follow. He really cares about this story and the muscularity of the music used to tell it, which is more than someone with his talent has to do for the listener to get turned on by the finished product.
Donohoe is admittedly playing it a little safe with the soft pop hook in this song, but for this specific purpose, I think it works just fine. His voice was always meant to be the main focus of the spotlight in “Let the Light In” and the other four tracks on his recently released EP, and instead of adding a lot of weight to the mix with instrumental filler or compositional backflips, he wisely decided to do what he does best in keeping things simple, smart, and sonically clean cut from every angle.
It’s starting to feel like 2021 is going to have an epic summer in pop music, and indie players like Chris Donohoe are the primary reason why. The burdens of trying to reach an impossibly decadent lifestyle don’t rest on his shoulders here; a dream of reconciling the best components of pop and rock in one singular streamlined genre does. His ambitions are nothing to scoff at, and seeing them come into their own as well as they have in What Drives You, In the Way of the Water, and now “Let the Light In” is a real treat as both a fan and a professional critic.
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