ALBUM REVIEW: Julien Baker – Little Oblivions

Memphis-born Julien Baker returns with her haunting, ballad-filled 3rd studio album, that you would have to be oblivious to not be enamoured with. 

In her first solo album since Turn out the lights in 2017, Julien Baker is showing that she is back and better than ever before with a slowcore, self-produced album that is rich in raw emotion and a detailed account of a battle between herself and substance abuse. Little Oblivions offers you the chance to self-reflect as well as hope for anyone that’s endured personal struggles heightened by the difficult year that was 2020. 

After the debut of her critically acclaimed single Sprained ankle, it seemed as though Baker was on the rise however after struggling with deep-rooted personal issues, made worse by three years of touring, she decided to give up music for the time being and return to university in her hometown. Although initially a loss for fans everywhere, after graduating in 2019, she entered back into the studio and bestowed upon us the first single Faith Healer and on February 26th, the entire album, which has been worth the patience.  

From start to finish Little Oblivions is a journey through Bakers struggles, predominantly with alcohol abuse and this can be gathered from the first song Hardline and felt up until the final song, Ziptie. The simplicity of the lyrics and Bakers euphonious vocals lure you in and before you are aware, the emotions come in waves. Initially coming in small nudges of despair at lyrics like ‘I’m telling my own fortune/Something I cannot escape/I can see where this is going / But I can’t find the break’ then before you realise the magnitude of what you are feeling, there is an overwhelming wave of desolation.

Although most of the lyrics possess a constant poetic air of fragility, in tracks like Favour, Hardline and Bloodshot, the Instrumental breaks and the percussion provide a notion of power. There are no signs of tears in Julien Bakers voice, making it clear that she remains in control of her emotions and how she is telling her story. The album creates a newfound sense of empathy for listeners who have not struggled with addiction and a sense of hope for the listeners who have. 

When talking to Rolling Stone magazine, Baker explained candidly that before writing the album ‘2019 was not a good year. It was like riding a bike, slowly. When you don’t have the momentum anymore you start to falter’, She went on to say, ‘Little Oblivions is quite a bit of documenting 2019.’ 

The entire album is self-produced and created by the talented artist, all instruments with the exception of a few are played by Baker. It is a real exhibition of all the talent the 25 years old possesses. It also captivates her growth both emotionally and musically since her first single.

Little Oblivions is a 12-track personal, uncontrived masterpiece that is simple in it’s wording but emotionally complex in its creation. This album has recast Julien Baker from a popular indie-folk singer to one of the best artists of her time. 

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