NPR logo Song Premiere: Julien Baker, 'Sprained Ankle'

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Song Premiere: Julien Baker, 'Sprained Ankle'

Julien Baker.
Jake Cunningham/Courtesy of the artist
Julien Baker.
Jake Cunningham/Courtesy of the artist

Julien Baker started making her own music as a way to stay creative during the school year at Middle Tennessee State University. (MTSU is in Murfreesboro, and her band Forrister is Memphis-based.) It's this music-as-exercise mentality that lends her debut album Sprained Ankle the starkness and intimacy of a note to self.

Julien Baker.
Jake Cunningham/Courtesy of the artist
Julien Baker.
Jake Cunningham/Courtesy of the artist

Hear The Song

01Sprained Ankle

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  • Buy Featured Music

    Song
    Sprained Ankle
    Album
    Sprained Ankle
    Artist
    Julien Baker
    Label
    6131 Records
    Released
    2015

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  • from Sprained Ankle
  • by Julien Baker

The title track is spare and richly realized, with instrumental backing reminiscent of "Science vs. Romance" by Rilo Kiley (another band who excelled at balancing introspection with relatability). Baker has a soft voice but an assured one, so that when she sings that she's a "sprinter learning to wait," it's equal parts agony and burgeoning wisdom. As a teenager, student and musician involved in multiple projects, Baker may only be dabbling in solo work, or she may carve a permanent place for it in her career. Regardless of where she goes from here, the music she's making for now is wound and salve alike.

Sprained Ankle is out Oct. 23 on 6131 Records.