Gordi Offers a Thoughtful Perspective on Love and Longing

Gordi | Our Two Skins | (Jagjauwar)
3.5 of 5 Stars

Gordi, known to friends and family by her given name Sophie Payten, is a sensitive Australian singer and songwriter given to deep reflection, breathless introspection and consistent rumination. Specializing in a kind of abstract folk noir, a sound often referred to as “folktronica,” she began her career while studying at university and soon found success when her music was given placement in film and television.  The press soon suggested that she was the next big thing, and radio play and opening slots for the likes of Bon Iver, Of Monsters and Men, the Tallest Man on Earth, and other outfits of similar sensibilities soon followed. With her debut LP, Reservoir, the accolades quickly accumulated, and the stage was set for the successful career that followed.

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At this point in her career, Gordi could have easily opted for a set of songs that focused on the usual topics that pop music is generally consumed by — the need to reconcile love and longing, happiness and happenstance, and all the other daily traumas that were once so routine in pre-pandemic times. Instead, she chose to bare the emotions that had seized her psyche during a period of national reckoning. A same sex marriage debate was brewing back home, and she suddenly found herself physically distanced, uncertain of her status and desperately trying to reconnect with those she needed most.

Our Two Skins encapsulates the various scenarios that impacted her emotions, offering a thoughtful perspective on her ever-shifting sentiments. Recorded in a cottage located on her family farm, it showcases her hushed and harrowing circumspect through songs that remain consistently compelling throughout. She rarely opts for a full flourish; Opening track “Aeroplane Bathroom” for example, seems sparse and sedate even as Jordi gravitates her vocals to the highest register possible. Other tracks — “Radiator, “Unready” and the lovely “Volcanic” in particular — create a more ethereal effect, either through synthesized soundscapes, percolating percussion or simply a combination of ambiance and atmosphere. Through it all, Gordi exudes a shadowy, shifting perspective that often seems at odds with some of the more agitated instrumentation.

Ultimately, Our Two Skins is an album that begs closer examination to fully flesh out those deeper designs. At the same time, Gordi bares her doubts and uncertainties with a pure unqualified candor. “I have these moments where I panic, When I shut down and go manic,” she concedes on the aforementioned “Volcanic,” one of several confessional songs in this set. The fact that she’s able to do so with such clarity and conviction is a quality that’s truly to be considered and admired.

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