Written By Maria Arroyo
Our Two Skins was created in a space isolated from everything “It was very removed…” Payten explains. “The idea was about cutting ourselves off from all things, including choice, and forcing us to be a lot more minimalist in the way that we can create stuff. I find I’m much more creative when I’m surrounded by nothing than when I’m surrounded by lots.” Payten also shares that this new album is hugely dedicated to her late grandmother, as well as the process for recording the album.
Her opening single “Aeroplane Bathroom” is a raw and beautiful gem tied up in the most eloquent bow. There’s very little post-production put into the song, showcasing that the song can more than stand on its own. Payten shares that the song came about as she rode solo on a plane, filled with uneasiness and anxiety.
“It’s like all the adrenaline of the last two months just dropped away and I had a little nervous breakdown,” Payten shares, “thinking about all these big changes. I was seeing my life that I thought was evolving in one direction is now evolving in this other direction.”
While her story is a very personal one, she is still able to connect with her audience to convey a sense of relatability. “Unready” is a very expressive song with a powerful anthem-like feel to it. I love that both her lyrics and her vocal performance make the hairs from my head to toes, stand straight up. Payten says that the song talks about being caught off guard in life as you’re in the middle of living it. “It worked,” Payten says. “I was dancing and singing the song. It was like I was talking to this old version of myself who was living life to a 15 percent capacity. It was a proper euphoric moment.”
Her next song “Sandwiches (aOSk Mix)” is another stunningly powerful song with a clear message and meaning to it, which is so important, especially when you’re trying to get new listeners to connect with your music. This song tragically came about as her and her family sat in the hospital, and as the staff was handing sandwiches out to all of them, they received the news that her grandmother had passed.
“Her whole life was in Canowindra,” Payten shares. “and that’s why I wanted to make the record there. We made it in a house that’s a hundred meters from her house, and despite the loss and learning it took to get there, the month spent in the cottage is a happy time,” and is symbolic to her coming to terms with her life’s realities.
Quite possibly the biggest highlight of the album is “Volcanic,” a song with so much pain and utter talent, that I couldn’t keep it together for the end of the song. Payten was raised in a Catholic family, so sharing her newfound identity, both in terms of her gender and sexuality, she didn’t share her findings with her grandmother.
“I just made a decision,” she says. “She’s 95, she doesn’t need to know, I love her and I don’t want to complicate our relationship.” The song came about the night her parents called her and tried to explain to her to share her truth with her grandmother. A few months passed, and Payten‘s father shared this news with his mother, who later called Payten and said “Your dad told me. I love you…” This is the last conversation the two had.
“Extraordinary Life” is a wonderful tune that I would play for my partner. She says everything that I would ever want to say so eloquently, like in her lyrics “the way I need you is more than to survive, I wanna give you an extraordinary life.”
She digs down deep in herself to pull out these beautiful moments that will forever bring me to the edge of tears. Another song off her album that was an amazing listen was “Limits.” The song is strongest in its lyrical content, and I don’t have a shred of critique for it. It’s both haunting and intriguing, with the power to have me play it on repeat for the rest of the night.
Her next song “Hate The World” is the epitome of a song with layers upon layers but isn’t overworked in the slightest. Every section compliments the others, and they all blend seamlessly together, and she does it effortlessly.
Changing directions is her song “Look Like You” which shines a light of some powerful moments that I think many people, especially younger women, can relate to. It truly has a purpose for those who can connect to it on a deeper level. Bringing Our Two Skins to a close is “Free Association” which is another strong and purely beautiful song that is very moving, just like the rest of the album.
“A big theme of the record is: there’s nothing to hide behind,” Payten shares. “We didn’t have all the bells and whistles. You’re just standing there, with your hands in your pockets going: this is me. This is it. This is all I have.”
Our Two Skins is an album filled with tons of imagery and a certain depth that many others lack. As songwriters, we wear our hearts on our sleeves, bearing our vulnerability for others to do with it as they choose, but to get the listener to feel what you’re feeling is the ultimate goal, and I think she surpasses it more than the highest expectations.
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