It’s safe to say that 25-year-old Julien Baker, with her arsenal of wistful melodies, isn’t your go-to artist for upbeat jams. But that’s in no way a criticism. Each of her tracks is poignant and emotive, and her albums almost beg to be played by those among the self-confessed Melancholics Anonymous. Whether you’re down in the dumps, having a bad day or simply need to switch off and hear something you can relate to, Baker has the formula.
‘Little Oblivions’ is her third studio album, following 2017’s ‘Turn Out the Lights’, which was painfully accurate in not only her songwriting, but her raw guitar licks. She’s about as modest and humble as they get, but she doesn’t half know how to put together a powerful record.
If you’re a fan of Gordi, Phoebe Bridgers and co, you’ll be blown away by Baker’s offerings. I’ve struggled to find something among her material that has quite measured up to the tearjerking ‘Something’, with its peaceful, echoing beauty. But then she unleashed ‘Faith Healer’ ahead of her latest album’s release and, wow. This punchier, more experimental offering is epic — and it’s utterly catchy too, which gives it the souped-up edge that I’d been hanging around for.
You can bet that the triumphs of the album don’t stop there. More woodwind and string instruments make appearances, which ups the ante somewhat and makes this record stand out against her previous. ‘Heatwave’ is a stellar example of how these well-rounded tracks have really benefited from mightier guitars and drums.
‘Crying Wolf’ and ‘Song in E’ are akin to the softer tracks we’re accustomed to, but if you’re keen to hear her songs that differ a bit from that old blueprint, go for ‘Ringside’ and ‘Ziptie’. They just have those extra ingredients in there, to season the traditionally gentle sounds.
If you only download one track, let it be: ‘Faith Healer’