Nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake can be dull and full of hollow allusions that don’t always ring true. With the current pop culture climate that loves to harp on “remember when’s” and “the good ol’ days”, imitation acts come and go with the trends of the moment, but there’s something to be said for those that take the inspirations of previous eras and turn them into something new and progressive. Canadian multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer Conor Gains falls into the second category.
On his new Three EP, Gains crafts a melodic and mesmerizing brand of rock-infused soul/R&B that feels fresh and familiar at the same time. “The title of the album is Three,” Gains explains. “The number three represents the principle of expansion, and growth on the physical, emotional, mental, financial, and spiritual levels.”
That growth and expansion are palpable throughout. It comes as no surprise that Gains utilizes a triple-threat approach which is extremely impressive as each of the five songs on the release explores different musical avenues accompanied by intelligent arrangements and top-notch production that highlights his mature brand of songwriting.
The true gem is Gains’ vocal capabilities. He can wail with the best of them with a fiery rasp that touches notes of southern rock with a modern Nashville bend. Lead single Light Shine In is the perfect example with powerful falsetto and raw energy that feels perfectly weathered like broken-in leather. Think Marshall Tucker Band or Allman Brothers.
Right when you feel you’ve got the full picture, Gains doubles down on his early R&B influences with songs like Hiding from Myself and Mirror. Suddenly a soulful crooner emerges with heavenly backing vocals and buttery rhythm guitars. Gains even finds a way to tap into more traditional pop and jazz stylings that feel akin to D’Angelo or even John Legend or John Mayer.
This dynamic approach makes Gains all the more accessible no matter your genre preference. The 27-year old perfectly touches on the retro sounds that inspired him yet has the uncanny ability to bring them into the world of today.
If we’ve learned anything from popular music, it’s that artists, genres, gimmicks, and trends all come and go. It’s an artists’ ability to transcend those barriers which enable them to stand the test of time.
Conor Gains takes pride in his roots, what led him on his musical journey as a musician, songwriter, and producer, but with his new EP Three he finds ways to be more than just another retro-whatever artist.
‘Three’ is out now on Wax Records. Buy it or stream it now HERE.
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