Julien Baker's 'Appointments' is a Heartbreaking Portrayal of Depression
    • THURSDAY, AUGUST 17, 2017

    • Posted by: Jake Holzman


    There's a great line from the title track of Julien Baker's debut album, Sprained Ankle, that goes, "I wish I could write songs about anything other than death." That should really give you a good idea about what to expect from this talented singer-songwriter: sad, incisive meditations on personal subjects that are inherently difficult to talk about. With that in mind, it's great to hear that her new song, "Appointments," sounds like it could have been ripped straight from that sombre, dreamy debut. Instead, it'll be featured on her new album, Turn Out the Lights, which was confirmed today and will be out on October 27.

    "Appointments" begins with the same reverbed, minimalistic guitar plucking that Baker utilizes so well. What follows is a heartbreaking story about a woman dealing with mental health issues, and the effect it's had on her relationship. Baker paints a picture of a lover who is "disappointed" by their depressed partner, who admits "I wanted someone who I used to make me feel alive/ I know that you think I'm not trying." As usual, no stone is left unturned in her lyrics, but "Appointments" is one of Baker's most well-written portrayals of depression, as she poetically describes her feelings of emptiness ("Maybe the emptiness is just a lesson in canvases"), as well as her therapy appointments ("It's just that I talked to somebody again/ who knows how to help me get better and/ ‘til then I should just try not to miss anymore appointments"). The song ends in a way that is not so much "hopeful" as it is desperate: "Maybe it's gonna turn out alright/ And I know that it's not but I have to believe that it is."

    Aside from Baker's lyrics, the music itself is breathtaking. Baker gives a fantastic performance, and her beautiful vocal harmonies add that little extra tug at the heart strings. The production is also spectacular, which is all the more impressive because Baker produced all of the songs on Turn Out the Lights herself. If Julien Baker's goal as a songwriter is to make her listeners feel what she's struggling with, then she deserves all the credit she can get for how well she articulates pain through both her skills as a writer and her talents as a musician/producer.
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