Julien Baker’s Little Oblivions is one of the first truly great albums of the year, a showcase for a burgeoning young star’s astonishing talent, lyrical courage and jaw-dropping voice. We recommended her album on last week’s RELEVANT Recommends and to be honest, Little Oblivions has only grown on us since then.
Baker’s a Memphis, Tennessee native who has spoken regularly and thoughtfully about what it means to be a queer person of faith in the American South. Her identity disrupts several stereotypes and popular narratives, but Baker was schooled in Christian adjacent hardcore/punk scene (she has an Underoath tattoo) and has learned to accept her identity. “Punk teaches the same inversion of power as the Gospel,” she told the New Yorker. “You learn that the coolest thing about having a microphone is turning it away from your own mouth.”
And we’re not alone. Seth Meyer brought Baker and the band “on” to perform “Hardline” and they knocked it out of the park. The song, like much of Baker’s music, is a meditation on the trials of addiction and the toll it takes on relationships. It’s not exactly cheerful stuff but it’s some of the most raw and poignant songwriting on her generation. Listen below.