What I’m Listening To: Julien Baker

With finals underway, graduation creeping in and the never-ending job search, you can say I’ve been a little stressed. Actually, you can say I’ve been a lot stressed.

A few weeks ago, a friend sent me the NPR Tiny Desk Concert to listen to the artist Julien Baker. The concert showed Baker performing a few of her songs acoustically. I immediately fell in love with her meaningful lyrics and her simple, beautiful sound. Her talent is undeniable.

A few days later, I was on a long drive home from Pittsburgh. I put on her album and I found myself in the middle of a good, healthy cry (well more like a healthy sob). I felt this emotional connection to the songs, a connection that only good, honest music can provide.

Baker, a twenty-year-old lyricist is a Christian college student from Memphis, but most of the songs on her debut album “Sprained Ankle” are somber. She discusses heavy issues and intense points in her life.

It’s a darker album, but I think that’s why I have so much appreciation for it.

In an interview with Observer, she said, “I acknowledge substance abuse, doubt, fear, sadness and despair in the songs because they’re real emotions that are worth talking about.”

That honesty is refreshing to see, especially because she’s a Christian. But she doesn’t play under a Christian label—that way she reaches more listeners, while still keeping her faith prevalent in each song.

In her song “Rejoice,” she questions God’s hand in her life, singing, “I think there’s a God and he hears either way. I rejoice and complain. Know my name and all of my hideous mistakes.”

I think we can all relate to those thoughts and questions in one-way or another. And I think those questions are healthy, especially when they direct us toward recognizing our own brokenness.

On the album’s last track, “Go Home,” she confesses her past struggles with alcohol. The song finishes with the famous hymn “In Christ Alone,” as a way of closing the album trusting in the direction of Christ throughout her life.

Her lyrics aren’t meant to sound preachy, but rather she seeks to share and relate her stories to anyone who listens. And in those moments of honesty, I think that’s when we can become even closer to God and our neighbor.

Her album “Sprained Ankle” is available on iTunes and Spotify.

Monthly Archives