Julien Baker has built her career thus far on stark and solitary music. She’s never needed much to leave an impact, frankly—her voice and guitar are subtle ripples that create an ocean of feeling. When her voice combines with those of her bandmates in boygenius, however, something truly magical happens. In fact, it happens a number of times in her new single “Favor,” which finds Baker backed in gorgeous harmony by collaborators Lucy Dacus and Phoebe Bridgers, marking the trio’s second time returning to together since their 2018 debut EP (the other being on Bridgers’ Punisher). That alone is almost enough to justify this as an Essential Track: The women of boygenius together again, doing awesome stuff? Sold.
“Favor” is, however, a particularly stunning highlight among the series of uniformly great singles Baker has already shared from her upcoming album Little Oblivions, which find Baker’s evocative and wrenching songwriting style bolstered by bigger rock arrangements. “Favor” does likewise, building a climactic arrangement of guitar, bass, drums and piano into a soaring anthem beneath her reflections on friendship and betrayal. “Told you the only kin I knew was who I could see from the gurney,” she sings. “I used to think about myself like I was a talented liar, turns out all my friends were trying to do me a favor.” To hear Baker sing about it, she might sound alone, but here at least, she’s never far from the company of friends.
From Little Oblivions, out February 26 via Matador
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.