After the surprising success of her debut album Sprained Ankle in 2015, Julien Baker starts 2017 with her new single “Funeral Pyre.”
[Song]: Funeral Pyre
[Artist]: Julien Baker
Overall Grade/Rating: A or 9/10
Subject Matter: A
Replay Value: A
Spin or Skip: Spin
The success of Sprained Ankle sent Julien Baker on tour all over the world during 2016. She did, however, find some time in the studio preparing her sophomore album. The first glimpse is the new single, “Funeral Pyre,” a song she had debuted on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert several months ago.
Even after just one album, Baker’s signature electric guitar style is instantly recognizable. She creates so much space and so much emotion before she ever starts singing. That strength continues as she adds several more layers as the song goes on. This is, however, one of the few songs Baker has released that actually feels a little too empty (although, that very well could be the point). It has the constant feel that it wants to get bigger, and it edges to it but never quite reaches the heights the emotion seems to warrant. Again, that might be the point.
Vocally, Baker is as open and vulnerable as she was on each song on Sprained Ankle. There really isn’t anyone in music these days that conveys emotion vocally as well as Baker does. As a listener you feel more connected to the lyrics with each passing metaphor, in part, from the lyrics and more so due to Baker’s vocal performance.
It was really impressive how much recognition Sprained Ankle received, but that’s a testament to how unique and exceptional that album is. She created one masterpiece album without even realizing it, and with “Funeral Pyre” Julien Baker appears well on her way to another one.
Check out a live performance of “Funeral Pyre” below and studio version on Apple Music and Spotify. Baker’s acclaimed debut album, Sprained Ankle, is also available on Apple Music and Spotify.