Julien Baker is a purveyor of raw emotions. Young in age (22) but certainly old in spirit, her sound is extremely intimate while at the same time playing to base human emotions like sadness and desire. On a dreary Sunday she turned Union Transfer into an echo chamber of the soul. Here are some photos and highlights from the show:
1. Turn Out the Lights translates beautifully live
Baker’s second LP, Turn Out the Lights, came out last Friday. Compared to her devastating 2015 debut, Sprained Ankle, which sounds as if it was recorded in her bedroom and meant for an audience of one, the new album has the aural nature of being recorded in a church, where Baker’s words resonate even more. When she sings songs like “Appointments” or “Sour Breath,” her voice reaches deep within the listener’s soul, scratching away and looking for comfort in humanity.
2. Julien Baker resonates with the audience
The near-capacity Union Transfer was entranced from the moment Baker walked onstage. Whether purely solo or with violin accompaniment by Camille Faulkner, her stirring and raw revelations of the heart were punctuated by fervent applause and dedicated sing-alongs. To hear the crowd eagerly recite “Go Home,” a song about the painful side of love, was haunting and beautiful, showing the true potency of this performer. This power was seen with each song, concluding in beautiful epiphany when Baker was joined by openers Kiley Lotz of Petal and Nandi Rose Plunkett of Half Waif for the finale, “Good News.”
3. Half Waif was a beautiful middle movement of a three-act night
Nandi Rose Plunkett led the way on keys and stirring vocals for synth-pop act Half Waif. Her sound mixed well with the blues of the lights and the strings and percussion of fellow band members Adan Carlo and Zack Levine. They performed songs from their 2016 work Probable Depths and shared songs from a forthcoming LP.
4. Scranton-based Petal was a stunning opener
Kiley Lotz’s Petal struck the ears with a rock resonance that was immediate and exciting. Owning a stirring voice and the ability to switch from guitar to keys when needed, Lotz, playing without her usual band, brought music from her 2015 LP, Shame, and recent EP Comfort to stunning life. She also did an excellent cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Silver Springs.”