Get local news delivered straight to your phone

Support City Paper!

$
$
$

Your contribution is appreciated.

Julien Baker’s Sprained Ankle was, hands down, the saddest album I heard in 2015. “Wish I could write songs about anything other than death/ But I can’t go to bed without drawing the red, shaving off breaths,” she sings on the title track. It only gets darker from there. Baker’s achingly mesmerizing, delicate album might come off as typical early-20s ennui, but don’t be fooled: She’s a songwriter wise beyond her years, singing about depression, substance abuse, and crises of faith with the kind of nuance that someone with decades of life experiences under their belt would. The song “Brittle Boned,” she explained in an interview, is “about having to kill parts of yourself you don’t like so you can be a better person on the whole.” And on songs like “Blacktop,” “Rejoice,” and “Go Home,” Baker—who grew up a God-fearing Christian in Memphis—questions her faith, singing about a God who abandoned her at the times she needed him most. It’s all heavy stuff, sure, but music is best when it’s naked, vulnerable, and—above all—from the heart. Julien Baker performs at 9 p.m. at DC9, 1940 9th St. NW. $10–$12. (202) 483-5000. dcnine.com.