First Listen #11: Orion Sun’s ‘Hold Space for Me’

Despite Orion Sun coming in second as the “Most Talked About Artist on Thursday Email,” I don’t think I’ve really talked much about how I discovered her music. Looking back at my Spotify, I first saved some of Orion’s songs during the summer before my last year of college. That summer, I was working on a research project with a professor, so I was still living on campus during that time. I spent that 2 month period riding my bike around campus and to the coffee shop I met my professor at, combing through tons of books in the library, fixing the tires on my bike (I became QUITE the mechanic), and working as a summer programming assistant during my time away from the research, among a bunch of other summer time activities.

I listened to a lot of really good music that summer and dedicated a playlist to it, which you can find here 🙂 Among a couple of songs from IDK, Childish Gambino, and BROCKHAMPTON, were “Antidote” and “Space Jam – An Odyssey” by Orion Sun. Her voice and overall vibe was the perfect background music to the sunshine, ladybugs, and flowers that filled the crevices of summer 2018. Since then, I’ve been a fan of her music, and I couldn’t wait to hear Hold Space for Me (2020), as evident in the many Top 5s songs from the project ended up on.

Hold Space for Me begins with “Lightning,” which we’ve already talked in depth about. So, per usual, I’m just gonna reiterate those thoughts here. She posted a sneak peek of the song before it came out officially, and I fell in love with it almost immediately. It’s romantic; it’s yearning; it’s unsure. All of that at once. But she never sounds clumsy on this song. I didn’t really expect it as an intro to the album, but I kind of liked having it open up with something she already introduced us to. And I did, in fact, like the “what’s going on?” part the more I listed to it lol.

“Trying,” the next song on the project, is also really good. The production on it is perfection, and she’s playing the HELL out of her guitar. “Ne Me Quitte Pas (Don’t Leave Me)” is another one that we’ve already discussed before, and I stand by how in love I was with it when I chatted about it on a Top 5. I love the guitar at the beginning, and the “love me forever’s” at the end. It’s such a short song, but it works. The hook – omg. The way she says “it feels so good to know ya” makes me want to die and be buried in a pile of roses. She gives your heart everything it needs in such a short amount of time. And I think that’s the thing I like about Orion’s music. It’s so simple, but it lingers with you for a long time after you listen to it. An absolute masterpiece. 

“Holy Water” is another song with some incredible production. It gives me full on 90s R&B vibes. Like I could hear Aaliyah or someone like that on this song with Orion. The hook is also soo so good! There’s a line on the song that says “planning the future with our eyes closed” that I really love and I think ties in to the theme of the project. More on that later. “Grim Reaper” was one of the first songs that I wasn’t a super fan of. The production was good, and I like the song; I just know it’s something I won’t return to very often. But the next song?? “El Camino”???? OH. I’ve been LISTENING to “El Camino” lol. The production. on. this. SONG. And the guitar at the beginning is amazing. Also the BARSSSSSSS. I would have loved to hear this live (like I was supposed to before that Rona hit 😦 ). She just sounds like she’s having so much fun recording this. And the hook??? It makes me feel like I’m F L Y I N G.

“Smooth” was another song that I’m not super fond of, but I also don’t hate. There’s something Tierra Whack about “Golden Hour.” The vibe is very reminiscent of some of Tierra’s songs on Whack World (2018), and now, I’m kinda here for a Tierra and Orion collab!! I love the song’s move from feeling uncertain about things to growing and Orion feeling more secure and confident about the path that she’s on. We LOVE to see it.

“Coffee for Dinner” was another song that we already discussed, so I’ll keep it short by saying I’d DIE for this song. (edit: we have NOT talked about “Coffee for Dinner” yet, but I would still very much die for it lol) “Sailing” is another one of my favorites! I’m not a super fan of the break in the song after the intro, but it’s not gonna stop me from playing it 400 more times!!!! She bars out on this song as well. She has a line that says “if you make it yourself, the beat is free,” and that’s my favorite line of the E N T I R E project. The way she says it is so smooth!!!

The project ends with “Birds Gave Up,” which Orion mentioned during a Zoom performance a couple weeks ago was inspired by a bird chirping SUPER loud at her window one morning. I wasn’t really super wowed by this song after hearing it when it came out, but I absolutely LOVED hearing her perform it live. It was actually really beautiful to watch her perform. There were some little goof moments where her hands slipped or she played the wrong note, but I felt like those moments really made it feel like and intimate and real experience, despite the separation of the computer screen.

Speaking of that Zoom performance….WOW. It was fantastic. I’ve never had the chance to hear her perform live, despite her performing at my school one year lol. So it was blessed to hear her perform live. And she also broke down a little bit of her experience creating the project. She mentioned that making Hold Space for Me allowed her time for reflection. It “started off…with just sitting down and making music.” She recognized that “things [were] changing” and that “there was a lot of healing [she] had to do…a lot of revelations…a lot of friendships [she] though would last.” She mentioned that it almost felt like death. And that holding space for herself and being intentional about spending personal time with her thoughts and feelings was the key to preventing her from being in a negative mental space. Despite the uncomfy feelings that might come with that, which she mentioned she had a LOT of.

And I think being 23 right now and having so many of those uncomfy moments with myself (especially during this past year) made that really resonant with me. Being in your 20s is a mess lol. Especially your early 20s. I’ve felt this constant weight of the expectations that I have of myself and that other people have of me, and it’s difficult to find space and time away from those feelings. And sometimes they’re crushing. And not actively holding space for myself make those feelings crush me even harder. It has taken many nights of me sitting in my bed crying my eyes out to understand the importance of being vulnerable with me. It’s not a pretty experience; in fact, there’s always an inner thought where I’m thinking about how ugly my cry is while I’m having an existential crisis lol. But doing that has really opened up some doors of healing for me. And I’m excited to do more of that. And dreading it at the same time.

Orion Sun takes us on her own journey of self-realization on this project, and though I don’t know how often I’ll find myself listening to the entire thing (I definitely have some favorites though), it’s a really beautiful thing to hear. I’m excited to get more from her. I’m excited to see her shine even harder. I just…SHE’S JUST SO WONDERFUL. AND SO IS THIS PROJECT. AND THAT’S ON GANG!!

Overall Album Rating

Featured Image Credit:

(listen to Hold Space for Me by clicking the image below)

here’s something else you might like:

Top 5 from the Week #1 (ft. Orion Sun, YGTUT, Roddy Ricch, Q, and Mick Jenkins)

There was A LOT of really good music this week. A bunch of new Denzel (including me listening to some old collabs he’s done), some revisiting of old school r&b songs I used to listen to in the car with my mom, some revisiting of Saba’s Care for Me and Childish Gambino’s because the internet. … Continue reading Top 5 from the Week #1 (ft. Orion Sun, YGTUT, Roddy Ricch, Q, and Mick Jenkins)

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