Julien Baker debuts emotional album

ALLAN COLLINS
staff writer

Your reaction is probably the same as mine when asked the question: “Who in the world is Julien Baker?”
When looking through albums to put onto my show at 90.5 WERG, her album artwork for “Turn Out the Lights” just drew me in.
It has a thick and somewhat abstract album cover of what seems like a blue flower. It looked cute and peaceful, but at the same time oddly dark and disorienting.
Well, what better cover art than this because the record is one of the most beautiful yet painful records that has crossed my ears in 2017.
Baker is from Memphis, Tenn., and is a part of one of the top record labels of America, Matador Records, who has signed bands like Sonic Youth, Queens of the Stone Age, Spoon, Mogwai and Modest Mouse.
This is Baker’s sophomore album after her widely successful debut, “Sprained Ankle,” from 2015, which is full of these simple yet dark ballads.
But, it was somewhat of a childish record, like a Taylor Swift album in a way.
However, this new record “Turn Out the Lights” is a huge step forward for Baker.
Taking again more of these very slow burning guitar or piano driven ballads, she improves on her vocal delivery and matures as a singer.
Track after track Baker uses just enough instrumentation to keep you listening, without boring you to death.
Also, the production is crisp, yet real.
All the emotion that Baker wants you to feel is right in front of your face.
But the real beauty in the record is how this record feels.
The best way to describe it is that you could be having the best day of your life, and this record will still crush you.
Baker is breaking herself down both physically and emotionally.
At the surface, this feels like a love record, where she is complaining about losing a loved one.
But, the more you listen to lyrics the more you realize these are songs about an endless battle with depression, and relationships with herself, friends and even God.
Baker has accepted that she is depressed, or that she can’t accept who she is, but she isn’t afraid to keep trying.
This is really what makes me keep coming back to this record — the pure power that she has.
Through her soaring vocals and the slow burning instrumentals, there is a pure feel to this.
It’s like each song was recorded in one sitting and it’s just her in a dark room playing the guitar and singing from her heart. No lyric sheet or anything.
Overall, this definitely is a worthy listen, especially if you’re feeling down or depressed. There is just so much power.
From the production to the vocals there is just so much going for this record that you can’t pass it up.
There is more emotion on this very simple record than there is in any music you will hear on the radio.
Happy Listening, Gannon University!

• Genre: singer-songwriter, indie folk, slowcore
• Rating: low 9/10
• Favorite Song: “Appointments” or “Claws in Your Back”
• Least Favorite Song: “Happy to Be Here”

ALLAN COLLINS
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