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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Equal parts children's fiction writer, musical theatre expert, and emo pop-punk music aficionado, Janie Townsend can always be found among good stories. Along with her unmistakable voice, she contributes a haunting yet playful narrative tone to The Orchardist's music in the form of meticulous vocal arrangements.


  1. Ben Kunz

    Wow! Great piece! Did not expect to open this site and see a Julien Baker review. This has become one of my favorite albums over the last couple years. It’s so achingly sad on first listen, then the hope seeps through the more time you spend with it.


    Also, interestingly enough, my two favorite songs of 2015 were both called “Rejoice” (by Julien Baker and by Andrew Peterson). 🙂

  2. Matt Conner

    My favorite album from 2015 and her newest album is also a favorite of mine this year. Channels sorrow in the most beautiful ways.

  3. Drew Miller

    Ben, I love that you say “Rejoice” was your favorite 2015 song from both Andrew and Julien! I think that’s very fitting. Both songs capture what it means to rejoice, but with quite contrasting deliveries. Both very valid but from different musical worlds.

  4. Ben Kunz

    Both their records were my favorites of 2015 as well. They’ve been two of my biggest songwriting influences the last year but in entirely different ways so I get a huge kick out of seeing Julien mentioned in The Rabbit Room.

    Btw Drew, your band is so good. When I listen to “Inside My Head” it takes me back to being a kid and listening to Nickel Creek while driving with my family in the N. Georgia mountains. Can’t wait for Act III!

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