BY ISOBEL MOHYEDDIN // After releasing her album Sprained Ankle back in 2015, Memphis-born Julien Baker is coming to the 9:30 Club on October 17th in support of her album Turn Out the Lights due for release later this year.
While Sprained Ankle featured tracks that felt intimate and raw, the singles released so far for her upcoming record have felt much bigger and refined. On the title track, “Turn Out The Lights”, Baker begins plucking a somber melody and sings in her classically melancholy tone that harks back to songs like “Brittle Boned” or “Blacktop”. However, this song builds to a climax that sounds so full and present that I literally get goosebumps every time I hear it. “Appointments”, the first single from Baker’s new record, also builds into a stirring crescendo. While tracks like “Rejoice” from her first release also feature moments of sounding full and large, these newer tracks are much more produced and mixed to really push the sound whereas they previously felt very sparse and raw. Baker worked with Cameron Boucher, of Sorority Noise, on this record, to craft a more produced and complex sound than before.
Baker has also released tracks this year that won’t be featured on Turn Out the Lights, but are definitely worth checking out. “Funeral Pyre” harks back to the sound she mastered on Sprained Ankle, with melancholic lyrics like “Call me a coward, but I’m too scared to leave / ‘Cause I want you to be the last thing I see” paired only with a sparse and echoey guitar. “Distant Solar Systems” is a track that takes a look at Earth’s place in the universe, and puts into perspective how insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things. Both touch upon subjects such as God and self-destructive behavior, and were released earlier in 2017 with the announcement of Baker’s signing to Matador Records.
What remains true throughout her discography is her authenticity. She’s been very vocal about her beliefs and struggles with Christianity, her sexuality, and her mental health. She provides audiences with a raw and honest voice on her own struggles and many find ways to relate. When she first debuted her song “Funeral Pyre” on her NPR Music Tiny Desk, Julien Baker introduced it as “‘Sad Song 11’, since I already have 10 sad songs”. Honest, raw, and acutely introspective are the words I would use to describe Baker’s music, and her live shows are bound to be unforgettable nights of pure emotion.
Be sure to get tickets while you can here.