Rock ‘n’ roll is not all about sex, drugs and partying but as an art form has allowed the fragile soul to express the deepest and darkest thoughts on existential angst. This is certainly true of singer-songwriter Julien Baker.
With stripped down arrangements, Baker – a gay Christian – delivers a confessional drawn from the pits of her being. The writing is amazingly mature for someone who is only 22 years old.
‘The harder I swim/The faster I sink’ (“Sour Breath”)
Lines like this jump out with emphasis from Baker. It’s instructional that Baker fronts post-hardcore outfit Forrister and that this lyrical resonance finds a different emotional space – from visceral anger to profound sadness.
‘So why is it easy for everyone else?/I’m not always like this/There’s always tomorrow I guess’ (“Turn Out the Lights”)
Turn Out the Lights is a reflective album and like the best rock depressives (viz. Nick Drake, Alex Chilton, Mark Eitzel, Elliot Smith, Mark Kozelek, Rachael Yamagata) Baker is able to touch and shake the listener with tune, words and vocals and very little else.
Certainly, one of the saddest but more beautiful albums of 2017.
… still there’s more …