Julien Baker and Lauren Denitzio at Bush Hall
Bathed in an orange glow with its quaint classic decor of cherubs and chandeliers, Bush Hall is the perfect setting for tonight’s sold-out show from singer-songwriter Julien Baker, from Memphis, and her support Lauren Denitzio, from Brooklyn.
The hubbub of fellow gig-goers sets the scene as we wait, patiently anticipating the start of the concert. As the first chord rings out across the hall, there is an instantaneous hushed and revered silence. Denitzio’s singing style is reminiscent of other female alternative folk singers, such as Tegan and Sara and Imogen Heap. The vocals are filled with a longing of things to come, missed opportunities, and a yearning for the past. A raw emotion exists in the performer’s voice that encapsulates a melancholic yet hopeful contrast, in which lines like “…I wake as sleep escapes me, breathing through a hum of anxiety” are juxtaposed with “… You’ll feel better if you leave the house”, and “…I know myself better than anyone else”. Playing songs that are usually performed with the band Worriers, Denitzio presents herself as a self-assured solo musician, exuding a gradual confidence through tracks such as 85th, Menzingers and Plans.
As the evening’s main act Julien Baker appears on stage, there is again an awed silence. It is clear there are avid fans in the audience, with people lip-synching each lyric. There’s a strong dichotomy between Baker’s singing, her powerful vocals reaching high harmonies, and her quiet shyness amidst barely audible dry humoured comments between numbers. The music befits film soundtracks, with its 90s American folk melodies similar to the likes of early Red House Painters. Tracks Sprained Ankle, Everybody Does and Blacktop carry the listener into a bygone past, of simpler times. Serene-sounding melodies and far-reaching vocals present Baker at the top of her game.
Though the genre of American alternative folk music by Baker and Denitzio isn’t ground-breaking by any means, tonight’s set nevertheless holds up as a testament to their talent, and selling out Bush Hall is no mean feat. Both musicians performed sets full of feeling, compassion and a heartfelt earnestness, their music hauntingly beautiful, sending continual shivers through the crowd and producing a feeling as though one were transported to a darkly lit American bar, with the sound of gentle falling rain outside.
Photo: Erol Birsen
For further information about Julien Baker and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Sprained Ankle here: