Carrie Battan at The New Yorker:
In 2016, the singer-songwriters Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus, and Phoebe Bridgers, who were all in their early twenties, were living parallel lives. They’d proved themselves to be careful and accomplished writers and performers, and had begun to attract attention from critics and labels alike. Each artist had crafted a distinct sound: Baker, a recovered opioid addict from Memphis, whose musical upbringing was in the Christian church, makes spare and swelling music that draws from the melodies and the ritualized melancholy of the emo world. Bridgers, a Los Angeles native who worshipped Elliott Smith and starred in an Apple commercial at the age of twenty-one, makes folksy, acoustic rock songs whose wispiness cleverly masks their morbid and searing lyrics. (One of her best songs, “Funeral,” details the experience of singing at the funeral of a boy who died of a heroin overdose.) Dacus has a deep, rich voice and makes more conventional rock songs, which she sings from a calm remove. But the three share indisputable similarities: they approach indie rock from a deliberate and plaintive perspective that skews more toward emo, folk, and blues than toward punk, and they write the kind of lyrics that warrant close reading. They are dutiful about guitar-rock songwriting without being explicitly reverential to a particular era.