Julien Baker’s Solemn New Record Is Uplifting in a Strange Way

“Turn Out the Lights” is harrowing, yet hopeful.

Julien Baker

Turn Out the Lights

Matador

Harrowing and transfixing, Julien Baker’s second outing revisits the bleak emotional terrain of her debut, adding new dashes of musical color and glimmers of hope to take the edge off the pain. Shaded by tasteful piano, strings and occasional clarinet and sax, the solemn chamber-folk of Turn Out the Lights offers the perfect backdrop for her haunted voice, which tends toward calm resolve but can escalate to an anguished wail on short notice. Baker eloquently explores self-loathing and relationship hell with unflinching directness, exclaiming, “The harder I swim, the faster I sink,” in “Sour Breath,” and observing, “I know you were trying to help, but you’re only making it worse,” on “Shadowboxing,” while “Hurt Less” holds out a flickering promise of relief. Thanks to her rare gift for illuminating the soul’s dark places without sentimentality, this mesmerizing album ultimately feels cathartic, like hearing a great blues artist, and even a bit uplifting in a strange way.

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you'll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you’ll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate