Julia Jacklin’s current trajectory has been nothing but inspiring. After releasing the woozy and mesmerising single, Pool Party in 2016 she began to garner some serious attention. This continued with her debut album Don’t Let The Kids Win and then into her side project’s self-tilted album Phantastic Ferniture. This album picked up somewhat of a cult following much like Jacklin herself, with fans raving about the tantalising basslines and Jacklin’s effortless vocals. A year after her band’s debut release, she returns in solo form with her sophomore LP, Crushing. So, does it live up to the standards of crisp guitar chords and heart-wrenching lyrics on display in her previous outings?
It most certainly does, in spectacular fashion as well.
There is something awfully inviting and transcendent about Jacklin’s songwriting and singing ability. Right from the get go this is more than obvious on the track Body. Jacklin absolutely cradles the humming bass and soft drum lines, giving this track about a scaring break-ups aftermath an unflinching sense of fear. “When you took my camera turned to me, 23 naked on your bed looking straight at ya. Do you still have that photograph?”. It is a brave song, that is hard-hitting in delivery, sweetened only by the tender piano chords in the outro. This form continues into Head Alone where Jacklin’s voice once again commands total control of the simplistic acoustic production of drums and dwindling bass. It is clear Jacklin has tremendous talent to tweak her range hitting some impressive highs and maintaining control over her lower pitch. Head Alone goes beyond Jacklin’s vocal performance, delivering a punchy guitar riff nearing the back end of the track and delving into themes of respect within the physical realm of a relationship.
These much deeper and darker themes of ill-treatment throughout ones relationship carry on throughout Crushing. And Jacklin’s ability to paint pictures through her lyrics is impressive, even if at times tracks do tend to mould in to one another on the production side. This isn’t the case on Pressure To Party, probably the most dense track on the LP. It is also the most lively with drum fills and Jacklin’s layered vocals opening up to the chorus with real purpose alongside melodic guitar chords. Definitley the stand out track, Pressure to Party provides an upbeat tempo and rhythm that isn’t replicated again on the album. After Pressure to Party Jacklin slows things down again with Don’t Know How to Keep Loving You, where once again Jacklin’s vocals are centre stage. It is remarkable how beyond the crisp production Jacklin continually shines, forever remaining the focal point of each song with her powerful vocals. The track is a slow build into a stunning crescendo with a shrieking guitar solo.
When The Family Flies In and Convention provide the slower and stripped-back ballads of Crushing, with Jacklin’s isolated vocals accompanied by moot piano and guitar chords. Convention is definitely the lesser of the two, lacking the familiar strength and soul of Jacklin’s work that is on display much more profoundly in When The Family Flies In. Both are nice tracks and deliver tender moments, yet can feel like filler material when brought into the album as a whole.
Good Guy puts things back on track with a slow melodic crawl of guitar and drum, with the beautiful plucking of guitar chords littered throughout. “Tell me I’m the love of your life, just for the night even if you don’t feel it”, she is an open book letting her more intimate thoughts work into the grooves of the track. Jacklin must be commended for just how raw her delivery of these tender lyrics is, you can feel the weight and emotion going into each line and can’t help but be reeled into her innermost feelings.
The tragedies continue throughout Turn Me Down, where Jacklin’s heart-wrenching vocals soar throughout the plucky guitars. Half-way through this track Jacklin hits heights not yet seen on the LP and when put against an empty backdrop it is something to behold; the slow build of guitar and drum bass as she puts her whole heart into “Oh won’t you please turn me down”, you can’t do anything but listen in awe of a woman who knows her talent inside and out. Turn Me Down, is easily the stand-out track just on it’s raw talent and emotion alone.
"Jacklin must be commended for just how raw her delivery of these tender lyrics is, you can feel the weight and emotion going into each line and can’t help but be reeled into her innermost feelings. "
Comfort ends the album on a sombre note with Jacklin’s signature vocals stripped bare. It is a dire note to end on, with some closure, “I’ll be okay, I’ll be alright, I’ll get well soon, sleep through the night”, amongst what could be regret of leaving a former lover.
It’s funny straight after I finished listening to the album for the umpteenth time, Pool Party followed. And just listening to the production and noticing the lack of polish that is now obvious on Crushing it is interesting to see how far Jacklin has come. She’s improved upon the production side and overall sound without ever sacrificing that fierce emotion, and as a fan of her work I couldn’t be happier.
Crushing is a very impressive album. It hits all the sweet notes of indie pop and folk flair she is loved for, and dishes out a much more intense story-telling experience. Jacklin should be commended for her ability to story-tell so openly and to do so with real conviction. Even if at times the instrumentation can become quite ho-hum and safe, it rarely detracts from the experience Jacklin’s voice and lyrical talent puts on display. 4/5