Julien Baker's second LP is out October 27, so I have three more weeks to find more synonyms for "heartbreaking." Sprained Ankle, her 2015 debut LP, was a powerfully delicate soundtrack to a crisis of faith and a crisis of self that I've been turning back to more and more in the last few months. But "Appointments," the lead single from the forthcoming Turn Out the Lights, is even more brutal and engrossing, a paradoxically vivid detailing of depression that builds from a whisper to an agonizing howl that barely offers any hope beyond the promise of more medication.
Baker played "Appointments" on Minnesota Public Radio's legendary A Prairie Home Companion yesterday, performing at St Paul's Palace Theatre for the first show of a new season. She looped soft guitar lines over one another and controlled her voice so perfectly that I wonder if she's ever had to do a second take in the studio. The people of Minnesota seem to be pretty polite and their surroundings are all holy, but she could've played this at a strip club at 3 AM and stunned the place into silence.
She played a new song too. "Hurt Less" is glacially paced, with music-box arpeggios and a soft violin sketching out the edges of a melody while Baker, again, pries into agony. "I used to never wear a seatbelt / I said I didn't care / What happened," she sings. "I didn't see the point / Trying to save myself / From an accident / Somebody's gonna help me / What's this fabric gonna help / When I'm pitched through the windshield?"
You can watch the full two-hour show, which also features Chris Stapleton, at the top of the page. Baker's performance comes around the 18:00 mark.
UPDATE: The video's been taken down from YouTube, but you can listen to the performance in full right here.
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