Music

Gordi's 'Our Two Skins' Is an Unvarnished Document of Personal Discovery

Photo: Jess Gleeson / Courtesy of Pitch Perfect PR

Gordi's Our Two Skins chronicles difficulties and revelations against a backdrop of electronic-inspired folk.

Our Two Skins
Gordi

Jagjaguwar

26 June 2020

Our Two Skins, the latest album from Sophie Payten – professionally known as Gordi – begins with a bit of catharsis. "Aeroplane Bathroom" was written on a flight from her native Australia to Europe. She had a lot on our mind, recently completing her medical doctorate studies, ending a long-term relationship, and leaving a country that was embroiled in a same-sex marriage referendum. Accompanied primarily by piano, Gordi sings: "Do you see yourself unraveling / Do you know that these bones were always mine?" Later, she makes it even simpler: "I can't get my shit together in this aeroplane bathroom / I'm wondering why I haven't seen myself before."

Our Two Skins is about discovery, finding one's true self, and making peace with it. But while "Aeroplane Bathroom" employs a stark, sparse arrangement, much of the album has more of an indie-pop feel. "Folktronica" is a term that's tossed around a lot when describing Gordi's music, but it fits here. Recorded in Gordi's remote Australian hometown of Canowindra, she's joined by Chris Messina and Zach Hanson, whose combined resumes include Bon Iver, Bruce Hornsby, Tallest Man, Big Red Machine and Waxahatchee. A curious combination of tenderness, edge, and pop smarts are infused into Our Two Skins, Gordi's first full-length album since 2017's Reservoir.

But whatever hooks make their way into the album, they never dull the edge of the lyrics. Against a gentle, chugging rhythm, Gordi sings with mighty eloquence of an irresistible love on "Extraordinary Life". "It's like you're in my chest, it's like you're in my lungs," she sings. "Took something ordinary, sent it for a run / The way I need you now is more than to survive / I want to give you an extraordinary life." But Our Two Skins is also about the sadness and uncertainty of distance, as on the soulful closing ballad "Free Association". Her imagery is both novelistic and relatable: "I was in Detroit and on the phone / As I stood by the ice machine / We lost the connection / And the dread began to ripple through me."

The album also addresses the bonds of family. Gordi's grandmother, obviously an enormous influence in her life, is the inspiration behind two of the album's songs. The guitar-driven, mid-tempo "Sandwiches" is one: "When I think of you a movie-reel of moments plays / We'll be in the car or after mass on Saturdays." Also, there's the quiet, electronic-tinged "Volcanic", which she wrote while grappling with the decision of telling the ailing, strict Catholic matriarch about her sexuality. The whole album is something of a tribute to her late grandmother. "Her whole life was in Canowindra, and that's why I wanted to make the record there," Gordi explains in the album's press materials. "We made it in a house that's a hundred meters from her house."

The soft, tender moments on Our Two Skins are tempered with plenty of pop earworms, particularly on "Unready", which contains plenty of smart production touches and surprising amounts of warmth and depth. Gordi's voice is also a treasure – managing to combine the youthful honesty of Marika Hackman with the world-weary wisdom of Tanita Tikaram.

"The way you touch me / The way you love me / I have never known," Gordi sings in the profoundly emotional ballad, "Radiator". These are simple lines that you could find in any number of pop songs. But Gordi sings them with a devastating level of tenderness and depth. Our Two Skins is an album full of emotions – sadness, happiness, hope, love, loss – and all of it deeply felt and straight from the heart.

8


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Books

Zadie Smith's 'Intimations' Essays Pandemic With Erudite Wit and Compassion

Zadie Smith's Intimations is an essay collection of gleaming, wry, and crisp prose that wears its erudition lightly but takes flight on both everyday and lofty matters.

Music

Phil Elverum Sings His Memoir on 'Microphones in 2020'

On his first studio album under the Microphones moniker since 2003, Phil Elverum shows he has been recording the same song since he was a teenager in the mid-1990s. Microphones in 2020 might be his apex as a songwriter.

Music

Washed Out's 'Purple Noon' Supplies Reassurance and Comfort

Washed Out's Purple Noon makes an argument against cynicism simply by existing and sounding as good as it does.

Music

'Eight Gates' Is Jason Molina's Stark, Haunting, Posthumous Artistic Statement

The ten songs on Eight Gates from the late Jason Molina are fascinating, despite – or perhaps because of – their raw, unfinished feel.

Film

Apocalypse '45 Uses Gloriously Restored Footage to Reveal the Ugliest Side of Our Nature

Erik Nelson's gorgeously restored Pacific War color footage in Apocalypse '45 makes a dramatic backdrop for his revealing interviews with veterans who survived the brutality of "a war without mercy".

Music

12 Brilliant Recent Jazz Albums That Shouldn't Be Missed

There is so much wonderful creative music these days that even an apartment-bound critic misses too much of it. Here is jazz from the last 18 months that shouldn't be missed.

Music

Blues Legend Bobby Rush Reinvigorates the Classic "Dust My Broom" (premiere)

Still going strong at 86, blues legend Bobby Rush presents "Dust My Broom" from an upcoming salute to Mississippi blues history, Rawer Than Raw, rendered in his inimitable style.

Music

Folk Rock's the Brevet Give a Glimmer of Hope With "Blue Coast" (premiere)

Dreamy bits of sunshine find their way through the clouds of dreams dashed and lives on the brink of despair on "Blue Coast" from soulful rockers the Brevet.

Music

Michael McArthur's "How to Fall in Love" Isn't a Roadmap (premiere)

In tune with classic 1970s folk, Michael McArthur weaves a spellbinding tale of personal growth and hope for the future with "How to Fall in Love".

Film

Greta Gerwig's Adaptation of Loneliness in Louisa May Alcott's 'Little Women'

Greta Gerwig's film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel Little Women strays from the dominating theme of existential loneliness.

Music

The Band's Discontented Third LP, 1970's 'Stage Fright', Represented a World Braving Calamity

Released 50 years ago this month, the Band's Stage Fright remains a marker of cultural unrest not yet remedied.

Music

Natalie Schlabs Starts Living the Lifetime Dream With "That Early Love" (premiere + interview)

Unleashing the power of love with a new single and music video premiere, Natalie Schlabs is hoping to spread the word while letting her striking voice be heard ahead of Don't Look Too Close, the full-length album she will release in October.

Music

Rufus Wainwright Makes a Welcome Return to Pop with 'Unfollow the Rules'

Rufus Wainwright has done Judy Garland, Shakespeare, and opera, so now it's time for Rufus to rediscover Rufus on Unfollow the Rules.

Music

Jazz's Denny Zeitlin and Trio Get Adventurous on 'Live at Mezzrow'

West Coast pianist Denny Zeitlin creates a classic and adventurous live set with his long-standing trio featuring Buster Williams and Matt Wilson on Live at Mezzrow.

Film

The Inescapable Violence in Netflix's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui)

Fernando Frías de la Parra's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui) is part of a growing body of Latin American social realist films that show how creativity can serve a means of survival in tough circumstances.

Music

Arlo McKinley's Confessional Country/Folk Is Superb on 'Die Midwestern'

Country/folk singer-songwriter Arlo McKinley's debut Die Midwestern marries painful honesty with solid melodies and strong arrangements.

Music

Viserra Combine Guitar Heroics and Female Vocals on 'Siren Star'

If you ever thought 2000s hard rock needed more guitar leads and solos, Viserra have you covered with Siren Star.

Music

Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts Honor Their Favorite Songs With "Oh No" (premiere)

Ryan Hamilton's "Oh No" features guest vocals from Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo, and appears on Nowhere to Go But Everywhere out 18 September.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.