Author: Max Slade
Header photo courtesy of STG Presents
I’m a big fan of NPR Tiny Desk Concerts, and I often spend my evenings binging them, hoping I’ll come across a new artist or two. Finding a new favorite artist by oneself is a special experience, especially because you’re able to spread their music to your friends, making memories in the process. Perhaps my luckiest discovery while searching through my recommended page has been Julien Baker.
Julien Baker is a name known by most in the indie community; she sprung onto the scene in 2015 with her debut full-length, Sprained Ankle, a stripped but haunting album filled with unique guitar fingerpicking and tear-jerking piano. The most poignant aspect of Baker’s songwriting is her lyricism: she hails from Memphis, Tennessee where she grew up Christian, while also identifying as queer. Her songs often center around her upbringing, and she describes her lowest points in a beautiful way. Examples of this include “Rejoice,” which includes the chorus:
“But I think there’s a god and he hears either way
And I rejoice, and complain
Lift my voice, that I was made”
Stunning. All of Baker’s words reach this level and quality, and all are clearly pointed and thought through. On “Rejoice,” she is accompanied by a single guitar, showing how the sheer power and emotion in her voice is so well contrasted with subdued instrumentation.
She followed Sprained Ankle with Turn Out the Lights last year, which clearly displayed a more mature sound, both in songwriting and production. Through getting to know Baker’s music, I began to make it a tradition to watch her Tiny Desk Concerts, especially after seeing she had performed there again to show her second album. This performance was just as captivating, hooking me into her music even further.
I, like all other Julien Baker fans, had been anxiously awaiting her next move since her 2017 project, until she announced her new trio act with Phoebe Bridges and Lucy Dacus this year, Boygenius. The connecting of these three artists was something I had never thought I wanted, until I saw it being presented to me. Both Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus have incredible solo material, and are brilliant for similar reasons as Baker, making the group a match made in heaven. All three artists drown their songs in emotion, and all of them are on par in lyrical quality. Their debut self-titled EP delivered exactly what one could hope for: pure emotion, light-but-full instrumentation, and the best harmonies to ever meet my ears. Boygenius followed their EP directly with a Tiny Desk Concert, perfectly lining up with my tradition surrounding Julien Baker. Check it out here!
Boygenius will be performing their stunning debut on November 24th at The Moore Theater. The show is all ages, and I’d definitely recommend spending your night there. Tickets are available here!
MAX SLADE | make sure you bring tissues | KXSU Music Reporter