In Pitchfork’s review of Orion Sun’s album “Hold Space for Me,” the track “Trying” is labelled as a queer love ballad. The lyrics “I pray to god, wherever he resides / If lovin’ her’s alright / I love her with all my might” pretty much close the case on that argument. However, I’m here to say that this is first and foremost a song about loss — something that the world as a whole is experiencing more than ever recently.
In this track, the Philly-born R&B singer takes us on a lyrical and tonal journey through the many painful, conflicting stages of grief — or at least that’s what I’m projecting onto this melodic whisper of a song. Her beat is conspicuously simple like the binary of life and death, cyclical like the dynamic emotional drain of losing a loved one, and set in minor tones which Westerners are culturally conditioned to respond to with feelings of sadness.
Automatically upon listening, I am provoked to reprocess the recent untimely death of a dear friend. While the emotions here are troublesome, I simply can’t stop listening. Perhaps the outlet created through the song’s narrative is comforting in its empathetic grasp of death’s complexity — something that’s hard to come by in day-to-day conversations. Plainly, its sound is an audial reflection of grief and an acknowledgement of solidarity between those who have lost friends.
The lyrics, however, do the more literal grieving work here. “I hate it here without you.” In the months since facing such a harrowing loss, I can’t find a more relatable statement to the helplessness and slow-burning anger I’ve endured. “But this is life, I know / It’s nothing but unfair,” she says. This acceptance of the potential tragedies of life also mirror my own experience. At a certain point in the grieving process, the tears dry up, and you face the elongated foreverness of missing somebody you will never have the privilege of speaking to again.
At the very least, “Trying” opens up enough space for personal interpretation that I just happened to attach loss to its somber tone. At best, however, Orion Sun has created a channel through which her listeners can experience a cycle of grief in under three minutes. If that ain’t exposure therapy, I don’t know what is.
Check out Orion Sun’s “Trying” if you know what’s good for you.