I think we can all agree that as the year 2020 progresses, life keeps getting stranger and stranger. One chaotic situation seems to pile on top of the next; with so many relationships ending, threats of war, fires terrorizing our earth, cultural icons passing onto the next life so suddenly and now the novel coronavirus disrupting all sense of normalcy by infecting millions, killing thousands and pushing humanity into a socially isolated virtual world. Many of us are probably wondering how all these changes, all the pain and hardship will break the shell that encloses our understanding of life, for the better. We might find ourselves asking what to make of this situation, what secrets does the future hold and when will we uncover them?
Processing all these changes, trying to make sense of hardship, and learning the art of tactfully letting go is something everyone learns a little differently. For Philadelphia based musician Tiffany Majette aka Orion Sun, this learning curve occurs through translating moments and daydreams into music. She claims it to be “a way for me to process, to feel when I can’t and to be free.” Translating the process of growth into sound has always been a common theme in her music making it one of the most endearing and relatable things about her musicianship. The audience can sonically track her journey of understanding love, loss and getting older in her diary-like, intimate compositions. Over the course of four years, die hard fans have been growing alongside Orion Sun, not only as a person but in musical style. As she’s moved from releasing music that she captured through voice memos in 2016 to her more produced, drum heavy 2017 EP “A Collection of fleeting moments and Daydreams,” to her debut studio album “Hold Space For Me” that was released on March 27.
Majette describes her debut album as “a documentation of my healing process.” This proves to be true as it explores difficult circumstances like losing the comfort of home, friendships, love and realizing that no one truly owns anything or anyone. However, this doesn’t make the album sad by any means; on the contrary the outcome is truly uplifting and hopeful. In the midst of all the hardship, Majette always seems to hold space for new lessons to learn, and new ways to love and be loved. “Hold Space For Me” communicates that despite our not belonging to anything we have everything to hold on to.
Sonically, “Hold Space For Me” is Orion Sun’s most impressive project to date, as the production style finds the balance between being soulful and acoustically stripped down the way her “Voice Memos” EP was. Yet, more sonically full with harmonies and groovy bass lines, spacey keys and at times even a little aggressive and boastful, as she embraces elements of trap with her signature drum style of loud, crashing hi-hats and snares that distinguished her 2017 EP. All the while Orion Sun never loses her beautiful soothing vocals and contemplative, poetic lyrics that make her so special. An example of the way all these elements have merged so smoothly can be found in the second to last song of the album titled “Sailing.” She begins the song with a melodic guitar riff and simple bass line guiding the rhythm, as she reflects on a difficult time within her childhood.
Then, about a minute into the song Majette transitions into a more assertive, hip-hop style beat as she adds those famous drums and record scratches. Then she switches from singing to rapping as she accepts feeling lost and robbed of something; instead she begins to enjoy the journey and take notes on all the lessons she’s learned along the way. Majette seamlessly closes the song the way she started it by bringing back those longing lyrics of past experience and harmonies but with a newfound secure demeanor.
Another standout track on Orion Sun’s album that deals with embracing the process of change is “Coffee for dinner.” Released as the second single of the album, this song is an ode to finding and holding onto love in the midst of disaster and despair; whether that be romantic love, familial love or love for oneself. As the title reveals, Orion Sun writes with many antonyms to describe finding something beautiful in a situation that feels hopeless,“That late night in winter/ You saw a winner when I felt like a loser /Coffee for dinner kept me warm in the cold/ Made me stronger on my own, no.” Once again we see Majette learning to process difficult circumstances like homelessness and somehow find a new beginning in every situation she’s presented.
What listeners can take away from Orion Sun’s new album is this: it’s ok to not know what the trajectory of life might be because the purpose is in the journey of moving through every obstacle. So while the world might feel like it’s ending and everything you were so comfortable with might have been stripped from you faster than you expected, take time to slow down and accept that the process is the answer. And of course don’t forget to hold space for love in all its forms and for all of life’s small wondrous beauties.
Verdict: Orion Sun’s new album “Hold Space For Me” is a beautiful ode to self-love, reflection and growth. The album’s delicate balance of simple, soulful instrumentation with aggressive drumlines and meditative lyrics make it a must listen.