Listening to Julien Baker's harrowing solo debut Sprained Ankle can feel akin to pressing one's thumb firmly into the center of a deep thigh bruise. "I know I'm a pile of filthy wreckage you will wish you'd never touched," she sings atop atypically tender acoustic strumming on the typically shattered "Everybody Does." "You're gonna run when you find out who I am."

Listening to Julien Baker's harrowing solo debut Sprained Ankle can feel akin to pressing one's thumb firmly into the center of a deep thigh bruise. "I know I'm a pile of filthy wreckage you will wish you'd never touched," she sings atop atypically tender acoustic strumming on the typically shattered "Everybody Does." "You're gonna run when you find out who I am."

Most of the songs, a bulk of which were written and demoed in a dorm room at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where Baker is still enrolled, date back to 2013, a turbulent period where the musician struggled with crises both earthly (loneliness, self-loathing and substance abuse abound) and spiritual. "But I think there's a god," she sings on the muted "Rejoice," her voice steadily growing in both intensity and fortitude as the tune builds to a crescendo.

At the time, the Memphis-born Baker, who first surfaced playing guitar and singing in the pop-punk quartet Forrister, never anticipated releasing a solo record. In an early January phone interview, the musician said many of the songs were written out of emotional necessity, adding that she only recently started to come to terms with the more personal admissions that surfaced in the material.

"When I was first performing the songs it was near painful, and it felt very exhibitionist to display that part of myself. There was a trepidation that would enter my mind sometimes, like, 'Why did I share that much?" said Baker, 20, who headlines a concert at the Big Room Bar on Monday, Jan. 18. "Looking back at the things I was [writing] about on Sprained Ankle, I'm glad all those things happened even though they hurt so much. I wish I could go back to Julien of three years ago and just shake her by the shoulders and say, 'You're not screwing up. This is exactly where you need to be right now.' It was an opportunity for growth I just wasn't recognizing at that time."

While Baker is in a markedly better place these days - "I'm not that bummed out anymore," she said at one point in the conversation - the singer doesn't envision her solo material taking a sudden, sunny turn moving forward.

"People ask me if I'm going to write a happier record, and I don't know. I think everybody will continue to experience sadness or hardship, because you fix one thing and another thing breaks," said Baker, who first started playing guitar at 11 years old, attempting to replicate the riffs on My Chemical Romance's Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge. "You repair the stove and the fridge goes out."

Besides, Baker sees plenty of room for brasher, more uplifting guitar jams in the still-viable Forrister, which is likely to resume activity once the noise surrounding her subsides.

"We've been a band and friends for so long. We slept on floors together, and we've eaten gas station trash together - well, not literal trash," Baker said, and laughed. "Whenever this slows down ... I want to write and release a record with Forrister. We've talked about this since we were 15 years old. None of us is going to leave the other behind."