Australian singer-songwriter Gordi (a.k.a. Sophie Payten) has a dusky and evocative voice that usually gets enshrouded somehow: It often sounds like it's echoing down a stairwell, or else she's bathed it in vocal effects a la Imogen Heap or Gordi's occasional tourmate, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. But Payten's voice is an expressive and powerful instrument on its own, as her debut appearance behind the Tiny Desk demonstrates.
Aside from a bit of looping — in the strangely infectious notes that open "Heaven I Know," from last year's terrific Reservoir — Gordi here keeps her voice both unadorned and centered within warm, cool arrangements that include piano, acoustic guitar, pedal steel, a harmonium named Barbara, a saxophone played by Yellow Ostrich's Alex Schaaf, and more. The effect here is rawer than on Reservoir, but that's part of the point: These songs stand up to being stripped down, every time.
Gordi (vocals, piano, harmonium, guitar); Ben Lester (keyboards, pedal steel); Zach Hanson (drums, keyboards); Alex Schaaf (saxophone)
- "Heaven I Know"
- "Can We Work It Out"
- "On My Side"
Producers: Bob Boilen, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Dani Lyman, Kara Frame; Production Assistant: Joshua Bote; Photo: Eslah Attar/NPR.