It’s been three months since I wrote that Julien Baker’s music was short-circuiting my vocabulary and—half as a result of that—I’ve ended up writing nothing about her since the release of Turn Out the Lights, her second LP, in October. But Baker’s Tiny Desk Concert, released by NPR this morning, gives me another chance. As it happens, actually listening to Turn Out the Lights was tough work. Hearing Baker pretty much write herself out of existence on “Hurt Less” was a lot tougher when I was still recovering from the rearranged mental wires of “Happy to Be Here.” It’s a devastating and immensely impressive record, one that sets Baker apart as a genuinely exceptional songwriter, and one that I’ll probably listen to once every four or five months at best from here out, because anything more would weigh me down too heavily.
I guess the point is this: the Tiny Desk Concert is made up of three songs. So while “Hurt Less,” “Even,” and her most brutal performance of “Appointments” yet will break your heart, you can maybe piece it back together afterwards without feeling the need to lie in bed for a week, sobbing.
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