In March of 2016, just a handful of months after her debut album Sprained Ankle was released, Julien Baker came and played a quiet, thoughtful Tiny Desk concert that went on to become one of our most popular and certainly one of the most-talked-about Tiny Desk Concerts of the year. (It’s now approaching two million views on YouTube alone.)
Fast forward to the summer of 2017, when I heard that a new record was imminent. I don’t usually ask an artist back for a second Tiny Desk Concert simply because they have a new release — but for Julien, I had to make an exception. With all the love that surrounded her first visit to the NPR offices, I reached out to ask if she would be willing to do something different this time around. Last fall, she delivered.
All the songs for her return to the Tiny Desk come from last year’s Turn Out The Lights. Just a few weeks before the album’s release, she came to Washington; we tuned our piano, she brought violinist Camille Faulkner. The first two songs, “Hurt Less” and “Even,” were accompanied by Camille, with Julien on piano for the opening tune and acoustic guitar on the second. It’s quite stunning, as she sings:
Putting my fist through the plaster in the bathroom of a Motel 6
I must have pictured it all a thousand times
I swear to God I think I’m gonna die
I know you were right
I can’t be fixed, so help me
For the last, Julien put together an arrangement of “Appointments” that begins on electric guitar, which then was looped as a backdrop to her on piano and voice.
Julien Baker is a massively talented songwriter with a deeply caring heart and a perfectionist streak — all of which delivered to her a career-making year. We are so thrilled to have her return.
- “Hurt Less”
Julien Baker, Camille Faulkner
Producers: Bob Boilen, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Alyse Young, CJ Riculan; Production Assistant: Salvatore Maicki; Photo: Jennifer Kerrigan/NPR
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