Courtesy of Mom + Pop Music

April 17, 2020

TEST SPIN | Orion Sun & Longing For Better Times

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When I first heard Orion Sun’s breathy vocals and twangy bass melodica on the Spotify-curated playlist POLLEN, I navigated straight to her bio, curious to see the product of her self-perception and how she hopes to be perceived. Spotify bio pages — especially the one posted by the artist — are a world of variety that stretch from personal manifestos to paragraph-form CVs. Orion Sun’s, the moniker of the 24-year-old Tiffany Majette, is just three words: “Becoming through music.” In an interview, she explains that the name ‘Orion Sun’ comes from a childhood fixation with space, and that she “[feels] like him sometimes, in the sense that he’s the hunter, so whenever I’m making art, I feel like I’m hunting for something, if anything parts of myself.”

In her debut album, Hold Space For Me, richness entangles with emptiness. We move, float and time-travel through Orion Sun’s dreamscapes as she pulls something — herself? Her past? Universal yearning? — into being

The first track, “Lightning,” begins with incessantly moody chords and riffs of “yeah”s and “oh okay” before Orion Sun spins her narrative: ”Lightning / Struck the house that we used to live in.” Her voice lingers on each syllable before entangling a parallel thread: “Hold me / Why you acting like you don’t know me?” A haunting tale of losing the ‘home’ of a person and place unfolds while choruses of “What’s goin’ o-on?” interludes her frustration and confusion. Time warps in her musings of “I thought that love lasts forever / But forever’s as long as a day / And the day is as long as an hour,” and pauses completely as light radio crackles signal the next track.

In “Trying,” her lyrics sway between overly-poetic and sincere, but the unfolding story of loss and grappling with it pulls us into her universe and pushes semantics aside. Her voice is silky yet also woefully gripping, and I almost fear that I am trespassing personal territory, stumbling onto another’s raw pain.

“This ain’t what I want right now / Gravity keeping me on the ground / Wanna go above the clouds / Where you are, right now,” she laments. I understand her desired transcendence and reunion; I desire it too, but the conclusion she begins with, of our irrevocable physicality — our “gravity” — is what prevents us. Solace, instead, can be found in the voice, and life, she gives to these grievings; her expressions show us that we too are heard.

Other songs, however, risk feeling contrived. “Grim Reaper” — a rather on-the-nose metaphor — asks the question “Where do you go / When your soul leaves the physical?” prompted by a desire to share fulfilment with someone who is no longer present. As if trying to dial for the person — or the answer — a distanced voicemail track plays “We’re sorry, you’ve reached a number that has been disconnected …” as Orion Sun repeats her questions. Predictability interferes and flattens her emotional pursuit.

Similarly, “Golden Hour” veers towards sentimentality. The coming-of-age tale begins with leaving home, pursuing dreams against the odds and ends with a prideful declaration of having made it — “they’re fucking with me now”.

Smatterings of lyrics feel forced and saccharine, but where they lack in description, Orion Sun makes up for atmospherically. She is an alchemist with melody and sound, giving us nothing short of aural indulgence. “Grim Reaper”’s mood is carried by the weight of each chord and the spaciness between; “Golden Hour”’s rickety folk-hiphop beat lifts the song to playful and anthem-like.

All things considered, the album is still a wonder. Orion Sun’s songs don’t just hold, but carve a special space out for her tales of love, nostalgia and loss. The tangibility of what she feels and has felt transcends her story and acknowledges ours, holding a space for us too. The empathy of Hold Space For Me makes it a timely listen, given the immediacy of our desire for a different reality. While we long for a different future and hold tight to the victories and fallings of the past, Orion Sun’s voice is here to guide us through it all.

 

 

Cecilia Lu is a sophomore in the College of Architecture, Art and Planning. She can be reached at ceclu@cornellsun.com