Song of the Week: Julien Baker – “Faith Healer”

A powerful, empathetic return.

There’s no artist today who builds up and breaks down such powerful swells of emotion better than Julien Baker. Her music and lyrics speak to daily struggles with faith, hope, addiction, need for connection and more with a raw vulnerability and beauty. “Faith Healer,” her latest single, is just as heartfelt.

Baker sings about the vices that that tug and scratch at us, and how they offer an unhealthy sense of escapism. But that need for relief and assurance could also lead people to rely on another in a way that prevents healing, rather than leading to it. The lyrics offer no easy answers, but that just adds to the communal nature of the song.

Musically, “Faith Healer” also shows an evolution In Baker’s sound, bringing in a full band to add to the waves of catharsis. Besides the great drums, the warped, stuttering synth-strings that show up halfway through the song are another refreshing highlight that will swirl around your ears and mind in the best way. It’s a step forward for an artist who always challenges herself and her audience, audibly and emotionally.

“Faith Healer” is the first single from Baker’s third solo album, Little Oblivions, out on 2/26 via Matador.