Friday, August 26, 2016

Julien Baker Sings Your Favourite Song (Guest Post)

A couple of months ago, guest blogger Joey Baltimore sent me this post about Duran Duran and why he still listens to them 20 years after discovering their debut album for the first time. Now he's back to try and salvage his indie credibility with some words about Memphis singer-songwriter Julien Baker. Over to you, Joe...

No one who loves music likes to answer 'What’s your favourite song?' question, because there are always too many answers, or too many caveats, or it's just impossible to pin down. But still, I find myself having favourite songs for hours, days, or sometimes weeks at a time - where I just keep coming back to one or two tracks over and over again (as of July 29th, 8am-ish, my favourite track is Old Friends by Pinegrove...I'm editing this on August 12th, and I think it's still that, although Ominous Bird by The Furniture is also on heavy rotation currently).

For a long time, Photobooth by Death Cab for Cutie was one of my favourite songs, and the official Death Cab Twitter account recently sent out a link to Julien Baker covering that very track:

Covers are tricky; sometimes they're great, sometimes they're not, and it's almost always the case that if the original was something I really liked then the cover will not impress me. But Julien Baker nailed Photobooth, and now I can't decide which version I like better. Hers was so good, I'm pretty sure I had purchased her album before the end of my second play-through. Risky, but I figured that anyone able to do that could make other good stuff.

I'm happy to say that the risk paid off, and that Baker's album Sprained Ankle has been in my rotation ever since.

It’s not a happy record, as evidenced by the opening line of Sprained Ankle ("Wish I could write songs about anything other than death"), the hospital references of Brittle Boned, and the haunting vocals on Rejoice. But Julien Baker has an excellent voice that matches the music, and it makes me want to listen closely and then listen again. Despite the fact that no track evokes anything particularly happy or positive, by the time the album reaches Go Home, I always feel pretty good for having listened to it.

I think that’s part of the reason I hate the "favourite song" question. I wouldn’t list any one of Julien Baker’s songs as my favourite, but the whole album taken together is becoming one of my favourite listening experiences.

Thanks to Joey (@joeybaltimore78) for another great guest blog. Sprained Ankle is available from Julien Baker's Bandcamp page - get it here.

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