Julien Baker – Sprained Ankle
Sprained Ankle is the solo record from 21-year-old Memphis based Julien Baker.
Her deeply rooted love for late 90s emo pop reflect in Baker’s slow, melancholy and beautifully poignant lyrics and guitar riffs – drawing easy references to her influences such as Dan Bazan (Pedro The Lion), Aaron Weiss (mewithoutYou) and Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie).
Julien Baker is often associated with other powerful female solo artists such as Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen, seeing her open for Death Cab for Cutie and Touché Amoré on their recent US tours. She even sang with frontman Jeremy Bolm on the track Skyscraper, from their recent Stage Four album.
On Sprained Ankle, Bakers’ multi-faceted album deals with familiar issues such as death and hope, addiction and religion.
The title track opens with the chilling and emotive lyric ‘Wish I could write songs about anything other than death’. The understated, breathy voice is reminiscent of Elliot Smith or Keaton Henson.
However, on a track like Rejoice, you can feel the pure-power of Baker’s voice, which can juxtapose between almost whispering and belting.
Baker’s raw emotion is really shown in the slow, piano based end track Go Home as she screams the line ‘But I haven’t been taking my Medicine’ at the bridge of the final verse and brutally honest lyric ‘There’s more whisky than blood in my veins’. The song finishes on Julien Baker’s instrumental rendition of the hymn In Christ Alone as the distorted, crackling sound of a church radio station can be heard.
The sound epitomises the emotion of the album, that among all of darkness there is something greater – there is hope.
Her sound is carefully crafted utilising her Fender Telecaster amongst a collection of pedals. The combination of the delay and reverb applied to both the guitar and vocals create a lovely wall of sound, that not only creates a grand impression of power and size, but also highlights the vulnerability in her voice when she sings, particularly on Good News. Her voice quivering throughout finally finishes on the poignant line: ‘And more about how I ruin everything I think could be good news.’
The songs are clearly very personal and act as a form of self-expression for Baker and as a listener you are privileged.
Julien Baker – Sprained Ankle will be physically re-released on March 17th on Matador.
2. Sprained Ankle
3. Brittled Boned
4. Everybody Does
5. Good News
9. Go Home
This album might be one of the most thought-provoking, emotive and honest albums to come out in recent years.
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