Sound — 10
Lots of delay and a telecaster are the foundations for Julien Baker's sound, in addition to some looper pedals for solo performance. A simplistic set up, but it yields great results. Between Julien's soft vocals and the music's folk sound, "Sprained Ankle" is truly a hidden gem. I discovered the artist when binge watching NPR Tiny Desk Concerts and I think everyone should look at one of her live performances. In one Audiotree interview, Julien Baker shares her musical experiences ranged from John Mayer covers as a kid to a metalcore cover band. She is/was also a member of the emo band Forrister. In this album, Julien Baker creates her own and distinct sound, though.
Lyrics — 9
While not my favorite album lyrically, the words that make up "Sprained Ankle" certainly allow you to think. Baker is simplistic when it comes to lyrics in the same way she is with her set up, but (as with her set up), less is more. From leaving people wondering why they did nothing when they could have made a difference (look at the song "Something") to songs like "Rejoice" that somehow blends emotional lyrics that are often in other genres with her folk sound, "Sprained Ankle" does just enough and not too much.
Overall Impression — 10
I didn't listen to lots of small artists before "Sprained Ankle" but now I am obsessed with independent guitarists (not always unsigned, but rather solo performers). While Tash Sultana has a very different sound, with many complicated layers and drumbeats and loopers, a little bit of the same emotional spirit can be found in her EP "Notion" that can be found in "Sprained Ankle". There is very little to dislike about "Sprained Ankle". It is one of my favorite albums from a new artists. I can only hope more people find out about it.