When I was younger, after Saturday sport, if I’d played well and scored a goal, my Dad would give me dollar to buy something from the canteen. Without failure, I’d buy a bag of mixed lollies. Mainly because it was great value, but also because you never knew what you were going to get until you smashed through it all in the five minute trip home. Much like those mixed lollies from years ago, Gordi has created a debut record that is a pleasant surprise of mixed genres, instrumentation and quality storytelling.
The unassuming Gordi, known to her mum as Sophie Payten, has managed to pull off an album that will leave you questioning your own talents, whilst also leaving you wondering how far she’ll end up going. Coming in at eleven tracks in length, Reservoir hits its straps from the get-go, as opening track “Long Way” shows us what Gordi can do as a musician and vocalist. Becoming increasingly layered, the track is underpinned through out its entirety by a ticking clock, as her vocals build and grow from strength to strength over the track’s run.
The brilliant “All The Light We Cannot See” has an impact on the listener’s ears almost immediately, as the chorus soars before slowly and impressively building to its final crescendo in the closing minute. This is the early highlight from Reservoir. Up next is “On My Side”. Speaking of the want/need to have someone by their side, the main protagonist is equal parts stubborn and lost. Once more, the closing chorus is nothing more than pure quality.
Finding that she tended to write more relatable and powerful tracks about platonic relationships (rather than romantic), lead single “Heaven I Know” speaks about that one friendship we’ve all had: You were once real tight, but life and all its uncertainties got in the way. You grew up and away from what you had as friends. It’s a natural process, but doesn’t hurt any less. It’s here that Gordi is at her most vulnerable. It’s also here on “Heaven I Know” that the influence of Bon Iver is first heavily felt, with the auto-tune and horns coming straight out of the Justin Vernon playbook.
“I’m Done” is most reminiscent of the material that appeared on her debut EP (Clever Disguise), as it’s backed purely by guitar and an intermittent horn. At this point, it becomes increasingly evident that the main theme on Reservoir is loss. Featuring heavily on “Myriad”, the lyric ‘I hope I won’t go and give it all for nothing’ hits you right when you’re still aching from all the loss that’s already happened. It’s great to see “Can We Work It Out” make a re-appearance from 2016’s Clever Disguise. It’s as much a tune now as it was then.
Helping close out Reservoir with five-minutes of the sprawling and soaring “Something Like This”, you’re continually reminded of the honesty Gordi has put into her lyrics. For many artists, the music takes precedent over the lyrics. And while the music on Reservoir is still outrageously strong, the strength of her lyrics is what puts Gordi in another league. Reservoir is an album of loss and relatable tales. But just when you think you’ve worked it out, it goes down another path. Much like a mixed bag of lollies, you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get on Reservoir until you sit down and smash through it.
Review Score: 8 out of 10.
Reservoir is out now.