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Review: Sprained Ankle by Julien Baker

Heartbreak makes a certain sound. You don’t always know when you’re hearing it. After a time you realize, sometimes gently and sometimes not, that your heart has been broken. It’s a hard sound to mistake once you’ve recognized it. It’s a hard sound to forget.

When I was little, I thought people only had their hearts broken during school dances and bad dates. It wasn’t until I grew up that I understood being older, seeing yourself and the world with older eyes, is itself a heartbreak. When we’re met with our heaviest hopes and our most scarring failings, when we grasp that we can never be free of them no matter how we try, that’s when we learn the hollowness and the weight of a heart ground down. Hurt and humbled, with reverberations of the breaking ringing in our ears, we’re left searching for a way to rebuild what shattered.

There are nine tracks on Julien Baker’s debut album, Sprained Ankle. Nine outpourings of evocative imagery, nine haunting stills of frailty mingled with faithfulness. All nine piece together a story not fully told, a narrative woven into view and paradoxically veiled by smatterings of literary lyrics. All nine make the sound of heartbreak over and over again.

Sprained Ankle is raw with the fresh wounds of innocence lost. With anguish and trust, Baker laments and wonders at life as a creature of humanness and hope. Her songwriting boasts believability more than anything else, holding the heartsickness that accompanies existence right alongside the desperation to cling to divine love with all her might.

Listen to Sprained Ankle here.

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