Julien Baker: Tiny Desk Concert The young Tennessee singer-songwriter performs three of her spare, sad, simple songs at the NPR Music offices.

Tiny Desk

Julien Baker

There are nine spare, simple songs on Julien Baker's debut album, Sprained Ankle, and every one of them is sad. In fact, she came to the Tiny Desk with an untitled new one — since given the name "Funeral Pyre" — and she appropriately introduced it as "Sad Song #11." But Baker's shimmering electric-guitar picking, the purity of her voice and the yearning way she sings make each of her songs lovely and memorable rather than merely somber. She takes raw emotions and weaves them into perfect bits of memorable poetry like this, from the song "Good News":

In the thin air my ribs creak

Like wooden dining chairs when you see me

Always scared that every situation ends the same

With a blank stare

For fans of Torres, another Tennessee musician, there's a similar intensity to that electric guitar and lonesome sound. But unlike the intensity Torres unleashes with her voice, Baker lets her words carry the volume. It's a tone that lulls you into her world and has me eagerly anticipating "Sad Song #12" and beyond.

Sprained Ankle is available now. (iTunes) (Amazon)

Set List

  • "Sprained Ankle"
  • "Funeral Pyre"
  • "Something"

Credits

Producers: Bob Boilen, Niki Walker; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Niki Walker, Kara Frame; Production Assistant: Jackson Sinnenberg; Photo: Emily Bogle/NPR.

For more Tiny Desk concerts, subscribe to our podcast.

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Kian Soltani plays a Tiny Desk Concert on March 8, 2019 (Amr Alfiky/NPR). Amr Alfiky/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Amr Alfiky/NPR

Kian Soltani

Watch a young cellist on the rise, offering music of virtuosity, sweet lyricism and a little fire from his Persian roots.

half•alive plays a Tiny Desk Concert on June 21, 2019 (Shuran Huang/NPR). Shuran Huang/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Shuran Huang/NPR

half•alive

How does half•alive, known for funky earworms and synchronized dancing, translate to such a cozy space? Have the dancers sit.

Among Authors plays a Tiny Desk Concert on June 20, 2019 (Olivia Falcigno/NPR). Olivia Falcigno/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Olivia Falcigno/NPR

Among Authors

Among Authors' music isn't casual; there are songs within these songs, and they're not always catchy. They'll take you on a journey worth following.

Ty Dolla $ign pays tribute to Mac Miller at the Tiny Desk (Bob Boilen/NPR). Bob Boilen/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Bob Boilen/NPR

Ty Dolla $ign Pays Tribute To Mac Miller At The Tiny Desk

While Ty Dolla $ign visited NPR to record his own Tiny Desk concert, he also performed a special tribute to his friend, the late Mac Miller.

David Crosby and The Lighthouse Band performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Nov. 29, 2018 (Cameron Pollack/NPR). Cameron Pollack/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Cameron Pollack/NPR

David Crosby & The Lighthouse Band

David Crosby, Becca Stevens, Michelle Willis and Michael League are The Lighthouse Band, and together they harmonized the heck out of the Tiny Desk.

Bas plays a Tiny Desk Concert on Jan. 15, 2019 . Amir Alfiky/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Amir Alfiky/NPR

Bas

Bas came to the Tiny Desk to get it, and — in a breathless four-song set — he did exactly that.

iLe plays a Tiny Desk Concert on July 23, 2019 (Olivia Falcigno/NPR). Olivia Falcigno/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Olivia Falcigno/NPR

iLe

The Calle 13 veteran, fresh off her appearance at demonstrations in Puerto Rico, performs three songs that rage with revolutionary intensity.

Calexico and Iron & Wine play a Tiny Desk Concert on June 19, 2019 (Shuran Huang/NPR). Shuran Huang/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Shuran Huang/NPR

Calexico And Iron & Wine

The two bands just released Years to Burn, their first album together since 2005. Now, they've performed three songs — two new, one old — for Calexico's Tiny Desk debut.

Lizzo plays a Tiny Desk Concert on May 21, 2019 (Claire Harbage/NPR). Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Lizzo

Backed by a band assembled just for this occasion, the breakthrough pop icon performs three joyfully showy songs from Cuz I Love You.

Tamino plays a Tiny Desk Concert on June 5, 2019 (Shuran Huang/NPR). Shuran Huang/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Shuran Huang/NPR

Tamino

Tamino possesses one of the most remarkable and memorable voices to ever grace the Tiny Desk.

Back To Top