Julia Jacklin – Crushing
Julia Jacklin returns with a remarkable second album which explores the quietly devastating aspects of love and heartbreak
On her debut album Don’t Let the Kids Win, Australian Julia Jacklin framed a quarter-life crisis in stinging alt-country tones. The title of her new record Crushing gives a glimpse into the refined atmosphere she sets to conjure this time round. Building on the mood of her debut, it explores differing aspects of love and heartbreak that are often quietly devastating.
There are a couple of moments where Jacklin brings out the driving guitars and veers into more conventional indie-rock territory, such as on Head Alone where she defiantly sings 'I don’t want to be touched all the time/ I raised my body up to be mine'. Yet more often than not Jacklin keeps things sparse and raw. Guitar lines are lilting and occasionally muted, drum beats steady and piano lines faded and plaintive. The plucked guitar of Convention feels beautifully unpolished and real alongside Jacklin’s vocals. It results in an inherent intimacy woven into the record that makes it feel all the more personal, as if she's is in the room with you, confiding in a trusted companion.
This downbeat instrumentation allows Jacklin’s best asset to step firmly into the forefront: her songwriting. She continually crafts narratives that are captivating and emotionally open, sometimes to devastating effect. On the opening lines of Good Guy, she exposes a desire to be wanted, even if it's unrequited ('Tell me I’m the love of your life, just for a night / Even if you don’t feel it'), a narrative she continues throughout ('I don’t care for the truth when I’m lonely'). Closer Comfort documents an aching transition after a breakup, detailing the ways in which life can go on: 'Take him out dancing, help to begin again'. But when Jacklin sings 'are you thinking of me too?' and the answer is left all but unresolved, she makes it feel agonising.
It’s this sometimes plain and forthright way in which Jacklin lays out her feelings that make them empathetic; on the likes of Turn Me Down it’s the sheer force of her vocals in its climactic crescendo that land an even more brutal gut punch. That excruciating howl is just one of myriad moments that will rattle around your head long after the last notes of Crushing have passed by. Remarkably generous in its open nature, it further cements Jacklin’s place as a future alt-country great.
Listen to: Good Guy, Comfort