There’s a word that’s often used to describe Julien Baker‘s music: devastating. I think I’ve seen it in almost every review and feature surrounding the release of Baker’s new album Turn Out the Lights; I think I’ve even used it myself. And it’s true, listening to Baker’s songs sometimes verges on painful — but in the most achingly beautiful way. From the Tennessee songwriter’s 2015 debut Sprained Ankle to the just-released Turn Out the Lights, Baker’s music is quiet but powerful, sparse but resonant, and sad in a way that makes it just about impossible to stop listening.
The heart-aching melancholy of Julien Baker may beg a quiet solo listen to her recordings (especially when unpacking the rich layers of the new album), but in a live setting, any sense of despondence that may accompany Baker’s music dissipates, replaced by an overwhelming sense of community. The persistent feeling of “we’re all sharing this special moment together” remained constant throughout Julien Baker’s headlining show at Union Transfer last night, and was shared not just by the audience but by all three sets of performers onstage. Continue reading →