1402 Clinton St.
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:30 PM
This event is all ages
Sometimes, things just seem to happen for a reason. The pieces fall into place in unexpected ways, and life takes a turn no one could have predicted. This rings strikingly true for the solo career of Memphis, Tennessee's Julien Baker.
For years, Baker and a group of close friends have performed as the band Forrister (formerly The Star Killers), but when college took her four hours away, her need to continue creating found an outlet through solo work. The intent was never to make these songs her main focus, yet the process proved to be startlingly cathartic. As each song came into shape, it became more apparent that Baker had genuinely deep, surprisingly dark stories to tell from her thus far short life (she turns 20 this fall). Tales of her experiences are staggering, and when set to her haunting guitar playing, the results are gut wrenching and heartfelt, relatable yet very personal. There's something wonderfully hypnotizing about Baker gently confessing her soul with such tremendous honesty.
At the prompting of a friend, Baker ventured to Richmond, Virginia to record a number of her new songs at Spacebomb Studios. The tracks from this session were circulated among Baker's friends, meeting high praise and lots of encouragement for the songs to see a proper release. Soon, she found a home on 6131 Records' increasingly diverse roster, and plans were made to release her debut full length, 'Sprained Ankle.'
To call 'Sprained Ankle' a happy accident would be misleading as to the nature of these poignant, emotive songs. Yet no one, least of all Baker, could have predicted she'd be releasing an album, especially as a solo artist. Thankfully, now the world will be able to share in her passion and sorrow.
During transition, there is the urge to look backwards to figure out where we are supposed to go. It can be nostalgic; the golden haze that surrounds our selective memory. Sweet moments that make up our individual narratives, or the stories we tell each other to reinforce our collective identity.
But that glance backwards can distract us from where we are now and what it really means; from the sea change, from the tide that sweeps what we know away and leaves us unencumbered, shivering, and beginning again.
Care is that tide. The one that sneaks up behind us and washes everything away. That strips us of our armor and stops us mid-sentence. That brings us back to where we are.
As much of a follow-up to 2005's synth-heavy "Headphones" album as it is to last year's Blanco, Care also finds Bazan getting back to the calm minimalism of early Pedro The Lion. Produced, recorded, and mixed by Bazan and legendary Oregon-based producer Richard Swift, bare synthesizers dominate the tracks, giving Care an intimate, personal sound. The vocals are close, mirroring the experience from the front seat at a house show. Steady, sparse beats tie the ten tracks together, thrumming a boom-tap, boom-tap like a thread.
Care creates vignettes with characters that are both diverse and intertwined. The title track is the anthem and mission statement for the album; a plea for empathy drawn as much from the state of the political world as the personal one. It reminds us that as we get older we can be more careless, that as we grow we can also retreat into ourselves and forget the simple truth that other people matter. It is a call to the simplest route to fidelity - to care more.
But the road to being present, the call to the task of being ultimately kind, is not easy. Care fights with itself, pulling tracks from Bazan Monthly Vol 1. Religious imagery haunts secular thoughts on "Permanent Record", while "Sparkling Water" mourns the quiet death of distance where there was once intimacy. Later, "Inner Lives" tiptoes past the temptation to settle for comfort instead of closeness.
"Keep Trying" is the clearest call to action. A track you'd be forgiven for reading as an interpersonal story, but would then miss the universal truth within it, the chorus repeats:
Sometimes love isn't all that it's cracked up to be
With humming synthesizers bolstered by Swift's signature warble and fade, "Keep Trying" reiterates the core of Care - that we're too easily distracted from what's real and lasting in favor of what is easy and accessible. That what we do to each other is what we do to the world. That some imperfect things are worth preserving.
As Bazan moves forward with a new chapter as a solo performer and a solo artist, this record is a ballast against what would be so easy to do - to isolate. It is a ringing commitment to see things for what they are and to protect what is left. To love better.
Even if it isn't what it's cracked up to be.
Absolutely no refunds - no exceptions.
Lineups and times are subject to change.
Valid Gov't issued photo ID required.