Julien Baker: Little Oblivions review – unsparing tales of shame

(Matador)
Merciless self-criticism is largely contained within the bounds of indie rock on Baker’s out-there third album

Singer-songwriter Julien Baker’s acutely observed confessionals have filled two acclaimed albums to date. Sombre love songs that referenced her Christian upbringing and a recovery from substance abuse have been foundational to this Tennessee artist’s evolving myth.

By contrast, Baker’s third outing goes large, in every sense. These are tales about falling off the wagon, spectacularly; about hurting herself and other people, repeatedly, fleshed out by bass, drums and synths, most often played by Baker herself. Where her previous records tiptoed, Little Oblivions stomps on effects pedals. Album opener Hardline builds into a breaker of pent-up instrumentation for Baker’s voice to surf.

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