Tennessee musician Julien Baker was last heard on her album Sprained Ankle in 2015, and now in 2017 she pulls at the heartstrings of everyone once again. Released on October 26th, we hear Julien Baker’s Turn Out the Lights, a gracefully beautiful and pure album featuring guitar, piano, and strings.
The album starts off with the song “Over” which comes in with a piano melody, almost similar to a classical music-type melody, this then speeds up, overlapping with strings. “Over” immediately swings into the second song “Appointments” with practically no musical break between the two songs. Baker’s hauntingly beautiful lines of “I’m staying in tonight. I won’t stop you from leaving, I know that I’m not what you wanted, am I?” are then sung over what sounds like a guitar loop. This track sounds like an ode to Baker’s heartbreak and conveys a deep emotional conversation to its listeners with such genuine uniqueness to it.
“Sour Breath” could easily be one of the best tracks on the album with Julien gradually building with each line she sings over the guitar line that’s being played, then a burst of piano chords follows; finally, we hear the belting resonance of “the harder I swim, the faster I sink.” Baker’s voice during this progression is a powerhouse to say the least. With her emotional connection to the very words that she is singing. “Sour Breath” ends with the instruments dropping out and we just hear Baker’s voice.
This isn’t album to listen to if you are not emotionally prepared for the journey of feelings and personal, emotional reflection that it will take you on. “There’s a comfort in failure singing too loud in church. Screaming my fears into speakers…” “Turn out the Lights” ends with the track “Claws in Your Back” where another piano sequence is heard.
Once again, as on Sprained Ankle, not only Julien Baker’s singing voice is heard but also her stories. Turn Out the Lights is a triumphant battle of musical storytelling and a testament that Baker’s voice has the power to make a loud room quickly go quiet.