Album Review – Little Oblivions

Review by: Rachel Cai

Artist: Julien Baker

Rating: 8.5/10

Julien Baker’s Little Oblivions, is a heart-wrenching chronicle of substance abuse, her struggle with faith, and her path to recovery. Her third solo album — and her first project since 2018’s collaborative Boygenius EP — is a self-produced, multi-instrumental affair, one where most of the performances are by Baker herself. 

Most of the project consists of a rich full-band sound, contrasting her more sparse previous work. The opener, “Hardline,” displays Baker’s piercing vocals, a raw confessional guided by strings. On “Favor,” which features soaring backing vocals from Boygenius bandmates Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus, Baker asks a piercing question amidst the wave of bleary guitars: “How long do I have until/I’ve spent up everyone’s goodwill?” 

The following track “Song in E,” is a quieter moment on the album, reminiscent of Baker’s previous projects as she sings over a stripped back piano accompaniment. It is another moment in Little Oblivions where Baker taps into the self-aware vulnerability she’s known for, a vulnerability that peaks at the album’s closer, “Ziptie.”

Here, constantly questioning her fate, Baker’s lyrics are at their most poetic, filled with biblical allusion and sharply vivid imagery. Though most of Little Oblivions feels like peering into Baker’s diary, “Ziptie” is as deeply personal as the record gets, painful and gorgeous all at once.