Photo by Matt Masters / Sidelines Archives
Julien Baker has come a long way from crashing in strangers’ homes playing house shows. The former MTSU student practically blew up overnight after her 2015 release, “Sprained Ankle.” Since then, fans have been anxiously awaiting her new work, especially after her announcement earlier this year that she signed with Matador Records.
Well, the wait is over.
Yesterday, Baker released a single along with the news of her forthcoming album “Turn Out the Lights,” a Matador release available Oct. 27.
The first listen to Baker’s newly released single, “Appointments,” is like throwing on your favorite sweater when the first mid-September chilly morning rolls around: a welcome familiarity. While Baker maintains the same sound as her early music, which captured the hearts of America and earned her coverage from major U.S. music magazines, there’s a refreshing amount of newness there as well. For example, Baker is known for no-thrills performances, often standing alone on a big, open stage with her pedal board and guitar, strumming quietly, but this track is slightly different in that regard. “Appointments” offers the company of a piano and twinkly-sounding guitar for her ballad.
This single is everything fans have been waiting for. It sticks to Baker’s melancholy roots but offers more than just sad words paired with wintery sounding music that those critical of Baker’s work say she produces.
With her bone-chilling vocals, Baker continues to pioneer the way for young adults to openly discuss their emotions, mental health struggles and the inevitable hopelessness that accompanies twenty-somethings as they navigate these subjects.
Self-deprecation is practically Baker’s middle name, and with good reason. The Memphis-native bares all, putting her worst qualities on a pedestal before anyone else can point them out.
Despite the (mostly) dismal lyrics in “Appointments,” Baker shows listeners a slightly different side: a mild hopefulness despite the bleakness of a relationship lost.
“Appointments” shows that Baker’s grown since her 2015 release. Following the track’s opening, she croons, “You wanted someone I used to be like.” At first listen, the obvious realization is that Baker is singing about the slippery slope of mental illness, and it seems she fell down the mountain. On a deeper level, it appeals to the feeling of outgrowing a partner and relationship, something many young adults are all too familiar with.
Later in the song, Baker sings, “Maybe it’s all gonna turn out alright/ I know it’s not/ But I have to believe that it is.” The blind optimism is a sign of hitting rock bottom, realizing you’ve got nowhere to go but up. Baker gives listeners an intimate look at her emotional state, and it’s likely these few lyrics will become the light those suffering will cling to after hearing this cut.
Follow Brinley Hineman on Twitter at @_briiindle.
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