Posts Tagged ‘Sprained Ankle’


Memphis, TN-based songwriter Julien Baker is the latest addition to the Matador Records roster. The 21-year-old’s devastating and vulnerable debut album, Sprained Ankle, which was originally released in 2015 and now gets re-released by Matador. The album was recorded at Spacebomb Studios, though Julien’s songs don’t share the down-home gloss of the other albums produced there. Instead of beefing up her honest tunes with rich layering like Natalie Prass or Matthew E. White, Baker pares her songs down to their simplest possible format: alone, singing and playing acoustic guitar directly into the microphone, sometimes in a single take.

That decision resulted in a remarkable record, one full of beautiful, personal explorations revealed in stark intimacy. That choice makes a lot of sense for Baker’s voice, both in the literal and figurative sense. Rather than Prass’ sweet, soaring tones or White’s blue-eyed soul, Sprained Ankle is delivered in reedy whispers and chilled coos. Released just before she turned 20 years old, the record still sounds raw – not that her voice lacks control or power, but rather that the weariness of songs about death, breakups, and existential questioning are sung with incredible presence. They’re coming of age songs from someone still coming of age, the wounds still fresh, the big truths currently being revealed. There are the struggles of depression, drugs, loneliness, but the clear-eyed way she faces it all supersedes any platitude.

LP – The album comes with a new 7″ Funeral Pyre. Only Baker can make a song with such a darkly macabre title so heartbreakingly gorgeous, with her signature hushed-yet-lofty vocals soaring over a quietly fingerpicked melody that crescendos into layered, almost-orchestral beauty. The B-side, Distant Solar System, is another unheard song from the Sprained Ankle sessions.

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With a new album due out next week I just wanted to reflect on Julien Baker’s release of last year and this perfect session for the “Tiny Desk Concert “ series

There are nine spare, simple songs on Julien Baker’s debut album, “Sprained Ankle”, and every one of them is sad. In fact, she came to the Tiny Desk with an untitled new one — since given the name “Funeral Pyre” — and she appropriately introduced it as “Sad Song #11.” But Baker’s shimmering electric-guitar picking, the purity of her voice and the yearning way she sings make each of her songs lovely and memorable rather than merely somber. She takes raw emotions and weaves them into perfect bits of memorable poetry like this, from the song “Good News”: In the thin air my ribs creak Like wooden dining chairs when you see me Always scared that every situation ends the same With a blank stare For fans of Torres, another Tennessee musician, there’s a similar intensity to that electric guitar and lonesome sound. But unlike the intensity Torres unleashes with her voice, Baker lets her words carry the volume. It’s a tone that lulls you into her world and has me eagerly anticipating “Sad Song #12” and beyond. Sprained Ankle was released last year.

Set List: “Sprained Ankle” “Funeral Pyre” “Something”

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Julien Baker’s music is poetic and intensely personal, written from her perspective as a young, gay, Christian from Memphis, Tennessee. The surprising thing is how well her music resonates with a crowd of all ages, genders, religious beliefs, and sexual orientations,


From the album “Sprained Ankle” out via 6131 Records. Perhaps part of the appeal of Sprained Ankle is the liberating feeling that comes from hearing someone tackling these subjects with such eloquence,
Recorded at Spacebomb Studios in Richmond, VA

Julien Baker -

Middle Tennessee State University student/songwriter Julien Baker came to the Paste Studio last january to play us some music off of her debut solo album, “Sprained Ankle” (which was featured in our best albums of 2015).

Baker, who released the album last year, has been through more in her life than the average 20-something, and her experiential maturity is evident in her songwriting. Her lyrics are intimate, sometimes cautionary, and completely from the heart. She’s doesn’t just sing and play guitar. It’s much, much more than that. Stay tuned: this young lady has a big future ahead of her. I;m hoping she tours the UK this forthcoming year , she would be an excellent addition to the End Of the Road Festival.

Watch Julien Baker’s performance of “Everybody Does” above, as well as “Sprained Ankle” and “Something” below from her Paste Session in the beginning part of the year.

Sprained Ankle – 21/1/2016 – Paste Studios, New York, NY

Something – 21/1/2016 – Paste Studios, New York, NY

Everybody Does – 21/1/2016 – Paste Studios, New York,

Julien Baker is only 20 years old, but the songs on “Sprained Ankle” sound like the stories of someone who has lived hundreds of lives before this one, which is to say: It’s an impossibly sad album. Fortunately, Baker’s heartache runs as deep as her faith, and that dichotomy is parsed over the course of these nine songs, all of which stand alone in their beauty but offer a sense of relief when bundled together. “Sprained Ankle” might make you melancholic, but it will also remind you of the lasting, saving power of music. It’s one that you will return to when you find yourself in crisis. It’s impossible to worry about the future when a 20-year-old college student effortlessly produced one of the best albums of the year. Well, even if it wasn’t effortless the stark effervescence of Sprained Ankle is as gripping as a single candle burning in the dark. Each song flickers, frisson and fear dance in shadows, but Baker herself never wavers. As perfect a debut as I’ve ever heard.


Recorded at Spacebomb Studios in Richmond, VA
Mastered at Bonati Mastering in Brooklyn, NY, these guitar notes that enter here just blew my mind. incredible vocal performance, and the restraint in the instrumentals / production is just perfect for this. amazing track.

Memphis-born singer-songwriter Julien Baker has gained a lot of traction online blogs from her emotionally honest tracks, which detail near-death experiences, substance abuse and spirituality. Though the 20-year-old artist originally self-released her heart-wrenching debut “Sprained Ankle” on Bandcamp while studying at college, she later signed to indie label 6131Records for an official release .

“Sprained Ankle” begins with gentle pin drop-like guitar plucking and it’s lent additional weight by her burning lyrics (“Wish I could write songs about anything other than death”), rather than additional instrumentation. In fact, the line isn’t even true, the 20-year-old singer songwriter from Memphis has many other subject matters, although they aren’t exactly light hearted. The album, released towards the end of 2015, was inspired by the loneliness felt whilst at university, finding herself for the first time away from family and friends. The result was nine songs, beautiful in their simplicity, brave, honest, tackling subject matter including car crashes, depression, substance abuse, and anxiety.

Onstage with just a microphone and her telecaster, the singer’s presence is just as unassuming as her songs. A loop pedal allows for a bit more depth in sound, and it is clear from the outset that Julien Baker is an accomplished guitarist. Singing a long way off the microphone, the resulting breathy vocal delivery adds to the ethereal quality of the songs. Subtle and simple, yet beautifully melodic, her music is devastating in its honesty.

Careful, Julien Baker could easily become one of your all time favorite artist.

In June she played her unreleased song Funeral Pyre , Somewhere In Munich. Live…

Watch singer-songwriter Julien Baker perform “Sprained Ankle” the title track off her debut album, during soundcheck at the Drake Hotel on Exclaim! TV. April 19, 2016.

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

When you stumble upon a songwriter as tender as Julien Baker, the initial urge is to keep her all to yourself. The Tennessee native has been working as part of Memphis’ Forrister for a while now, but her solo debut Sprained Ankle sounds effortless, a wellspring of wisdom and weariness from an impossibly astute 20-year-old. Baker recorded her debut at Matthew E. White’s Spacebomb Studios, which is why every note and lyric sounds clear and clean like polished silver. Julien Baker’s spare, magnificent songs gleam and shimmer, fractured precursors of things to come.


Julien Baker is from Memphis, Tennessee, and currently in school at MTSU. Regionally, she may be better known as a member of the punk-influenced indie band, Forrister, though in recent months her solo work has caught the attention of the national music press.  Beyond an undeniably great voice and the way she effortlessly spins heart-wrenching, brutally honest, confessional lyrics over sweetly melodic, looped guitar. Without much more than a few songs floating around to hear, she’s managed to captivate more than a few new fans, ahead of the release of her full recorded debut. Featured song: “Something”

Julien Baker’s album, “Sprained Ankle”, will be released October 23rd, 2015 on 6131 Records.