It’s been a busy few years for Julia Jacklin. On the back of her all conquering debut album, Don’t Let the Kids Win, Jacklin has spent the better part of the past two years making her way round the globe, playing her tunes in just about every country and venue you could think of or hope to play. In the time since Jacklin released DLTKW, a lot has changed not only for Jacklin, but also the world in general. Naturally, touring is a time to enjoy, but can also be a tiring time; a period in which relationships and your own personal health tend to be neglected. Here on Crushing, it is these relationships and personal health that form the basis for a fair proportion of the album content.
I’ll be honest here: I’m not a musician and have never been on tour. So while I may not fully understand the slog that is touring and what it’s like to be constantly in a state of upheaval, I can sympathise with the state that touring can leave musicians in. It appears as though that at the time Jacklin was recording Crushing, she was really struggling. Not in a musical sense; the album is as complete and more mature than DLTKW. But from an emotional standpoint, Jacklin feels at a loss. Stating that the album came from spending two years touring, being in a relationship and feeling like she never had her own time or space, it’s here you come to realise the multi-faceted meaning behind the album’s title.
The dreary reflection over a lost relationship on album opener “Body”, Jacklin is left contemplating the possible repercussions to the potential exploitation of her and her body via the other party in the relationship. Feeling as though it’s just something that she’ll have to deal with (“I guess it’s just my life; and it’s just my body”), you’re left feeling miserable for Jacklin.
Lead single “Head Alone” is an assertation that Jacklin is indeed in charge of her life, her relationships, and her body (“I’ll say it ’til he understands, you can love somebody without using your hands”), as the track soars in its second half. It’s here you remember how good a voice Jacklin actually has. Her ability to float between notes and octaves is brilliant, as the blues guitar really takes hold.
“Pressure To Party” is the anthem every awkward, tired, introvert needs in their life. As one of the only upbeat tracks on the album, “Pressure To Party” is, well, the party track of the album. All shit puns aside, it’s a killer track that touches once more on the need to move on with your life, whether that be socially, emotionally or spiritually.
Everything slows up a little and gets completely emotional on “Don’t Know How To Keep Loving You”, as Jacklin finally works out she needs to move on after working out the person the song is about really isn’t really worth having in her life (“don’t know how to keep loving you, now that I know you so well”). The melancholia in the guitar is despairing, as the subtlety of the drums helps tie the track together. As the second longest track on the album, “Don’t Know How To keep Loving You” hits its stride in the closing minute, as the stress and strain in Jacklin’s voice comes into its own.
Continuing with the theme of loss, “When The Family Flies In” is simultaneously the highest and lowest moment on Crushing. Touching on death and the same friend with whom she dedicated DLTKW to, Jacklin notes that there really aren’t words that do justice for what it’s like losing a friend, but recording the song was one of the only times it felt ok. The simplicity of the piano (a rare occurrence for Jacklin) allows the song to highlight the solemn nature and intention in which the song was created.
“Good Guy” ambles along at a near glacial speed, as Jacklin pleads with someone to tell her she’s the love of their life. A track about hearing what you want to hear, and seeing what you want to see (“I don’t care for the truth when I’m lonely, I don’t care if you lie”), “Good Guy” is simple in its delivery and the most simple of songs on Crush.
Turning it up slightly, “You Were Right” is a killer track, full of sass and attitude. I have no proof of this, but I wouldn’t mind betting “You Were Right” and “Pressure To Party” were recorded on the same day. Coming in as the longest track on Crushing, “Turn Me Down” has the slowest, yet most intense build on the album. It’s glorious and extremely fulfilling. Adding another verse on the end of the chorus climax is just another masterstroke Jacklin had waiting to deliver.
While Crushing is slightly more depressing than DLTKW, and doesn’t have as many songs that are going to make you instantly want to get up and have a dance to, on a whole it is a step forward for Julia Jacklin. It’s ten songs that show an artist that has progressed in her song writing and storytelling, even if it meant going through some shitty things along the way.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Crushing is out on Friday, 22nd February.
Julia Jacklin goes on her Crushing East Coast tour on the following dates:
Tuesday, 5th March – UOW Unibar, Wollongong (With Olympia & Annie Hamilton)
Wednesday, 6th March – ANU, Canberra (With Olympia & Annie Hamilton)
Saturday, 9th March – The Triffid, Brisbane (With Olympia & Asha Jefferies)
Thursday, 14th March – The Forum, Melbourne (With Olympia & Robert Muinos)
Friday, 15th March – Metro Theatre, Sydney (With Olympia & Annie Hamilton)
Saturday, 16th March – Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle (With Olympia & Annie Hamilton)