Review Summary: Raw, unadulterated catharsis mixed with brutal honesty.
Julien Baker has become an enthralling musician in modern music, especially in indie-folk. Her debut record Sprained Ankle
warmed its way up to fans as her features on many mainstream Spotify playlists as well as plentiful live sessions, including viral ones such as Audiotree (this one !), NPR, OurVinyl, CARDINAL, and many more snowballed her into near the forefront of the folk scene. It’s more than fair though, it’s practically expected. The raw emotion she displays in the studio alone
is essentially unrivaled by anyone else in music itself. Just the thought of her songs and their translation into a live setting give an extra aura of emotion that wasn’t there previously. Especially with how well produced the Audiotree audio-engineers craft and mold these artists into a live setting, in some senses, it almost makes the Audiotree version better
than some of the source material. And if i’m being honest that’s exactly the case with this beyond phenomenal recording.
The pain and less-filtered emotion displayed by Julien feels like you’re truly in the recording room with her, feeling her emotion. It honestly feels somewhat haunting. Her cathartic howling through the climax of “Rejoice” sends chills down the spine of the listener as she just continues to move through her set. “Something” also plays an integral part in her set as a beautiful centerpiece, showcasing some of her shimmering finger-picked guitar lines as well the Audiotree engineers’ capabilities to produce and mix such a clean tone to compliment Julien’s rough and (emotionally) damaged voice. The real shining gem of the set though, is closer “Go Home”. Serving also as the album closer to Sprained Ankle
, “Go Home” paints a canvas of an auditory nervous breakdown. The somber piano chords sink into a melancholic vocal delivery from Julien, giving one of, if not her most emotionally draining performance yet as she howls through lines like “And I haven’t been taking my meds, lock all the cabinets and send me to bed, cause I know you’re still worried I’m gonna get scared”
as soulfully and gracefully as it gets as the haunting and beaten piano chords triumph as a form of scenery to end the legendary performance.
There’s almost a sense of cathartic release, in her performance as well as the listener’s experience. The honesty she displays in her songwriting, vocal, and instrumental ability leaves her as one of the most elegant and astonishing open books in music today. Even in the short interview portions between songs on the video/stream version, you can see how well spoken, transparent, and most importantly passionate
she really is not only as a musician but as a person in general. The integrity and coherence she displays as a human being, musician, as well as a high advocate for the LGBT community makes her stray from the path of a lot of her contemporaries. Performances like this, an album like Sprained Ankle
, and songs like “Go Home” are what make Julien Baker a human, not just a musician. And there isn’t more of a beautiful thing than that.