JULIEN BAKER – ” Sprained Ankle “

Posted: November 27, 2015 in MUSIC
Tags: ,

Self-immolating anxiety set to reverberating guitar, For Fans of: Bon Iver, early Low, Throwing Muses

This Memphis-based punk screamer turned singer-songwriter Julien Baker turned 20 years old only a couple months ago, and she’s already playing her austere indie-folk supporting Wye Oak, Torres and EL VY. Her recently released debut, Sprained Ankle, contains nine sparse, beautifully morose coming-of-age tableaus finding the European lit major poetically reliving battles with addiction, car wrecks and feelings of worthlessness that enveloped her adolescence. On “Everybody Does” she delicately declares, “I know I’m a pile of filthy wreckage,” and on “Something,” she feels the “walls of my skull bend backwards” while missing a friend. Other than a few moments when she finds faith in God, the hope on the record lives in her gauzy, haunting guitar lines and the crystalline quality of her voice. “I think I really connect with sparseness,” she says. “The less tools you have, the more you have to rely on the narrative of your lyrics.”

She Says: The album opens with “Blacktop” a song that alludes to drug use and a near-fatal car wreck. “Everything was going wrong in my life, and I wanted to be a self-destructive kid,” she says of the teenage years that inspired it. “I was in that nihilistic phase of rejecting everything and being bitter at God. I was like, ‘Why should I not get high and wander around my neighborhood?’ Then I started to see God’s presence show up in subtle ways. A lot later, when I was 16, I was leaving church in my first car — my mom’s Honda Accord — in the middle of the day when a light pole fell on me and turned my sedan into a hot dog. Every part of the car caved in except for the space around my head. When they took the door off and I got out of the car, I was unscratched. I was covered in powdered glass, but I was not bleeding at all. I was like, ‘This is insane.’ I know people say there’s a distinction between coincidence and miracles, but I think they overlap. Why, when I was putting all kinds of crazy chemicals in my body, why when I was going out to parties I shouldn’t have been going to with people who may have been recklessly driving, why didn’t I die? Because I have something else to do. ‘Blacktop’ is a pastiche of these experiences.”

From Baker’s opening line — “Wish I could write songs about anything other than death” — “Sprained Ankle” is sad and beautiful.

Julien Baker

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.