Jan 13, 2021
By Christopher Roberts
Photography by Alysse Gafkjen
Acclaimed singer/songwriter Julien Baker is releasing a new album, Little Oblivions, on February 26 via Matador. Now she has shared another song from the album, “Hardline,” via an animated video for the propulsive single. Joe Baughman directed the video. She has also done a session for Seattle radio station KEXP. During the session she performed four songs with her band—“Faith Healer,” “Song in E,” “Hardline,” and “Fell on Black Days”—and was interviewed by host Cheryl Waters about going back to college and one day potentially getting a masters degree. Watch both videos below.
Baker had this to say about “Hardline” and its video in a press release: “A few years ago I started collecting travel ephemera again with a loose idea of making a piece of art with it. I had been touring pretty consistently since 2015 and had been traveling so much that items like plane tickets and hotel keycards didn’t have much novelty anymore. So I saved all my travel stuff and made a little collage of a house and a van out of it. I wanted to incorporate it into the record and when we were brainstorming ideas for videos we came across Joe Baughman and really liked his work so we reached out with the idea of making a stop-motion video that had similar aesthetic qualities as the house I built did. I don’t know why I have the impulse to write songs or make tiny sculptures out of plane tickets. But here it is anyway: a bunch of things I’ve collected and carried with me that I’ve re-organized into a new shape.”
Baughman had this to say about the video: “Even after having spent 600 hours immersed in ‘Hardline’ and having listened to it thousands of times, I am still moved by it. It was a fun and ambitious challenge creating something that could accompany such a compelling song. The style of the set design, inspired by a sculpture that Julien created, was especially fun to work in. I loved sifting through magazines, maps, and newspapers from the ’60s and ’70s and finding the right colors, shapes, and quotes to cover almost every surface in the video.”
When Little Oblivions was announced in October, Baker shared “Faith Healer” via a video for it. “Faith Healer” was one of our Songs of the Week. Then Baker performed “Faith Healer” on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Baker released her last album, Turn Out the Lights, back in 2017 via Matador, her first for the label. It was our Album of the Week and more importantly it was #2 on our Top 100 Albums of 2017 list. Little Oblivions is her third studio album (her debut was 2015’s Sprained Ankle). Little Oblivions was recorded in December 2019 and January 2020 in Baker’s hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. Calvin Lauber engineered the album and Craig Silvey mixed it, both of whom worked on Turn Out the Lights. Baker plays most of the instruments on the album, which a press release says fleshes out and expands were previously stripped back sound.
In 2019 Baker released a 7-inch single on Record Store Day featuring the new songs “Red Door” and “Conversation Piece.” Later in 2019 she shared two new songs, “Tokyo” and “Sucker Punch” as part of the Sub Pop Singles Club
In 2018 Baker also teamed up with fellow singer/songwriters Lucy Dacus and Phoebe Bridgers to form supergroup Boygenius, whose self-titled debut EP was released via Matador.
Read our interview with Baker and boygenius.
Read our 2017 cover story interview with Baker.
Also read our 2017 cover story bonus Q&A with Baker.
Read our rave 9/10 review of Turn Out the Lights.
Read our 2016 interview with Baker and our 2015 Artist Survey interview with her.