Pros: Painfully Honest
Cons: Should come with a warning!
Overall score: 10/10
To the age old question ‘can you love someone you’ve never met?’, after listening to the fragile whispers of Julien Baker, that answer is a resounding YES! Bracing myself for a shockwave of invasiveness following the previous albums of Sprained Ankle and Turn Out the Lights, nothing could’ve prepared me for the vulnerable twelve track journey that is Little Oblivions. Retaining the raw emotion of its predecessors, I’m not sure about luck, but pain certainly comes in threes.
Opening the floodgates with introductory track Hardline, Baker tells her own inescapable fortune, by ‘asking for forgiveness in advance, for all the future things I will destroy’. With the power to ‘split the difference between medicine and poison’, Little Oblivions injects a lethal dose of paralysis, making you as absorbed as the album title suggests. Defining the intense relationship with herself, Baker swallows the truth and confesses the sins she would inhale anything to forget. Detailing the different stages of heartbreak, anger and bargaining are strongly represented, concocted with a downward spiral of depression, taking Little Oblivions from a listening experience to an immersive one, positioning yourself in Baker’s corner in the fight for acceptance and hope.
Making you ‘see everything in startling intensity’ with third album track and first single release Faith Healer, as delicate as her middle name (Rose) the Germantown singer is willing to trade everything she loves to ‘take away the sting’. Unlike Baker’s plea to ‘make me feel something’, it’s difficult to not be physically consumed by the intimacy of this album. With every pluck of the guitar, yanking on our heart strings, you’d be forgiven in thinking each resonating lyric wasn’t handwritten by yourself. With each beautifully timed word, touching every aspect of your being, this latest autobiographical instalment meets the basic need of human connection, by acting as a non judgemental friend to confide in.
Encapsulating the tone of the album with the lyric, ‘it doesn’t feel too bad, but it doesn’t feel too good’, with latest release and eighth album track Favor, summing up Little Oblivionsperfectly with the line ‘I’m sorry I’m making myself cry’, which is exactly how you’ll feel after it’s first listen. Echoing the passion of the track are fellow Boygenius counterparts Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus, who add another layer to this already poignant outpouring. With each track presenting a different sound, Little Oblivions could easily be mistaken for a playlist of your favourite heart wrenching songs.
Not only putting her audio engineering skills to the test, with Little Oblivions being self produced, but with nearly all the instruments performed by the critically acclaimed songwriter, the Tennessee soulstress rivals storytelling with that of technical ability, and based on performance alone Julien Baker’s third album gets full marks and just like it’s tenth track, you’ll want to play Little Oblivions on Repeat.
Little Oblivions – Track Listing:
- Faith Healer
- Relative Fiction
- Crying Wolf
- Song in E
- Highlight Reel
Like every song on the album, Little Oblivions is to be felt on February 26th via Matador Records. Pre-order Julien Baker – Little Oblivions here.