This far into a career, Julien Baker could be forgiven for going in an opposite direction of her previous albums. The unfolding self-observant artist has never shied away from gut wrenching words and the power behind them in her music. However on her third album Little Oblivions Baker goes big in terms of sound while keeping the words as personal as you’ve come to expect. The result is another epic album where Baker extends her universe while drawing us in with each emotionally charged note.
The album opens with bursts of sound for “Hardline,” signalling a new sound already. The orchestral nuance against Baker’s vocals offers a calming tone. The song builds up with a terse factor that explodes when the song really gets going. Followed by “Heatwave” the album is already sounding larger than previous works by Baker. The elements here aren’t far away from those utilized previously, just arranged differently here. It works in grabbing your ears by using hints of pop to deliver the sounds into your ears.
The stark difference in the song “Relative Fiction” delivers Baker’s vocals with more emphasis. The personal words hit harder by using a more orchestrated tone. Where songs like “Crying Wolf” and “Song in E” offer a more tender side to the music, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t catchy hitters here. “Ringside” is immediate in how it hits. Baker’s vocals are higher in the mix with guitars and a drum machine beat underneath. The moderately paced song fills your speakers with sound, offering a better way to experience the songwriter’s music. Baker is flexing on a more full sound here that pays off in its overall effect. But of the twelve songs here we found ourselves loving the structure of “Repeat” more than any others. The soft opening builds with delicate touches that add more and more to the overall sound. Baker’s vocals sway between the notes with a delicate nature as the song gets heartier with each passing note. The end proves that Julien Baker isn’t down nor out, as Little Oblivions is just another chapter in a career that feels boundless.
Little Oblivions is available on various formats directly from Matador Records. It’s also available to purchase in all digital outlets or to stream on all streaming platforms. Julien Baker will perform via live-stream on Audiotree on March 25.
Image Credits: Photo by Alysse Gafkjen.