We all know that the women of the world are leading the pop charge these days, but as the year closes it seems pretty certain that they’re also responsible for the finest, most profound music in other genres. Specifically young women like Soak, Nadia Reid and Julien Baker, taking on the mountain of alt-folk and conquering them with heartbreaking flourish.
On her debut Sprained Ankle, 20 year-old Baker’s restrained approach delivers the key to every devastating missive. We yearn with her when she sings “come visit me”, surrounded as it is with sparse guitar on Blacktop. And, like Soak, that low-key register allows her wilder moments to hit home harder – Rejoice is an absolute stormer, with Baker practically yelling her way through a song about her mistakes in a manner that stupefies.
As is the case with the other members of her youth-folk cabal, it does Baker a grave disservice to link her age to the gigantic strides she takes as a performer on a first record. Her experience is just as valid as anyone’s, and more to the point she’s expressing it in a deeper way than any of her peers. Sprained Ankle might seem like a slight album you could shrug off, but its pain is worth bearing for a lifetime.
Sprained Ankle by Julien Baker can be ordered here.