Julien Baker – Turn Out The Lights (album review)

by Woody on October 27, 2017


photo : Nolan Knight

There are going to be articles that will dig deeper into this album. Some of these journalists will have spent time with Julien, or they’ll know more about her or more about music. So I’ll just tell you how her music makes me feel and how I got to where I am with her music.

In 2016, Baker was added on to the Newport Folk Fest roster. At that point, I hadn’t clicked with her music and so that announcement was met with little fanfare from myself. It was the last day of the Fest and if there was anybody else playing, I’d probably have skipped her set. But my buddy Nick and I made our way over after a lovely set by Joan Shelley. I’m here to say, I’ve seen a ton of great sets in my life but that one was special. There was something about the bond between the audience and Julien on that day that left a lasting impression on me.

On the flight home, hungover from the Deer Tick show the night before, I slipped her debut Sprained Ankle into my ears. The sparse arrangements left plenty of room for her powerful lyrics. It was then that I realized just how amazing that album was. I’ve listened to it plenty since and its grown in stature.

Well, Turn Out The Lights is better. Its sad, in a hopeful sort of way. Its an album you’re meant to listen in the dark alone; yet obsess with friends over later. It’s an album that hits you immediately but will have the staying power of forever. Appointments, Happy To Be Here and the title track are the standouts to me in an album full of them.

As good as Turn Out The Lights is, this isn’t her high water mark. She’s just getting going. She’s a couple of albums away from her mic drop moment. Not to put pressure on her, but that’s going to be a generational album.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Julien Baker is here

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