Sometimes joyful, sometimes haunting, ‘Turn Out The Lights’ is constantly and wonderfully arresting.
Label: Matador Records
Released: 27th October 2017
The simple storytelling of Julien Baker’s debut ‘Sprained Ankle’ was powerful and undeniable. Focusing on the sad, it wallowed in emotion and found comfort in the dark. With nothing to hide behind and nothing to lose, her stories quickly found an audience that, like her, longed for a sense of belonging. It turns out she wasn’t the only one in a little world of sadness.
With the creak of ‘Over’, Julien once again invites the world into hers. Rather than just accepting sadness, ‘Turn Out The Lights’ looks outwards and explores the whys and the hows. Confusion and loss still run wild, but they’re chased by a reason. A desire to turn things around. These are so much more than sad songs.
The changes are bold and quick to make themselves known. ‘Appointments’ twinkles under the belief that “maybe it’s all going to turn out alright. I know that it’s not, but I have to believe that it is,” while ‘Sour Breath’ plays with slow builds and deafening silences before the cinematic climax of ‘Claws In Your Back’ twists with epic horizons and quiet truths.
Sometimes joyful, sometimes haunting, ‘Turn Out The Lights’ is constantly and wonderfully arresting. Julien’s music has this was of finding its way into your very being, lighting up parts of yourself that you’d forgotten or long since locked away and reigniting a fire. It’s scary, conflicting but reassuring. There’s purity to the way she bares herself in song, and resilience in the way she pushes things forward. Whether it’s fighting with herself in ‘Shadowboxing’ or questioning her flaws in ‘Happy To Be Here’ to the close contact smile of ‘Hurt Less’, this record sees Julien step out beyond the expected. Sparking with brilliance and dancing under the weight of the world, ‘Turn Out The Lights’ is mind, body and soul superb. Ali Shutler