ALBUM RELEASE: Julia Jacklin – ‘Crushing’
WORDS BY MATTY PYWELL
From working in an essential oils factory to becoming a singer-songwriter. It took a bit of an epiphany for Julia Jacklin to start her musical career, after realising that life could pass her by, she decided to turn a hobby into a career. Her debut album Don’t Let The Kids Win was released back in 2016 and three years on from that, the ending of a relationship and the experiences in-between have led to Jacklin writing introspectively on her new album Crushing.
The album’s first track, Body is one which Jacklin described as, “a very long and exaggerated sigh”. The lyrics tell us of a man who isn’t exactly the best influence/person for Julia to be around, she comes to realise this and ends up leaving in order to feel like herself again. The piano keys on this track ring out like a call to the distance, giving the song a feeling of thought, with a tinge of remorse. Head Above finds Jacklin frustrated at a partner who is a bit too hands-on with her, seemingly unable to show his love in a different way, she constantly reminds him that, “you can love somebody without using your hands”. The melodic guitar playing on this song, gives it a great rhythm, particularly in the latter part of the track when the tempo increases.
View this post on Instagram
Pressure To Party is one of the more upbeat numbers on the album and is instantly memorable for how anthemic it is. Lyrically, Jacklin speaks of the social pressures people are faced with when going through a breakup. The pressure to take time alone, to feel alright and then go out and party as if you’re completely fine. Jacklin rebels against this, puts her foot down and states her intent to do things at her own pace. The frenetic mood of the track, perhaps reflecting the way that your mind can frantically switch between moods, as a repercussion of heartbreak. The lyricism on this track is at the highest level, I honestly believe that Jacklin has written the perfect breakup song.
Crushing is quite an emotive album, a few tracks are written about the strain and fatigue that start to seep into relationships and others are about the ways in which Jacklin wants to be treated and the perception of her body. One of the most emotional peaks is on the track, Don’t Know How To Keep Loving You, where she finds herself in a situation, where that fatigue has set in and the relationship just isn’t the same anymore. There’s an overriding sense of confusion as Jacklin seems to be struggling to distinguish the positive from the negative, “Into the darkness or is this the light? Should I be waking up or finding a place to sleep tonight?” The electric guitars that start to chime in towards the end of the song, sound like the tearful cries of someone who is simply just tired.
There’s an influence of country music to the track, Turn Me Down, the guitar notes feel like a walk down a long dusty road. Throughout the album, Jacklin’s vocals are consistently to a very high standard, she is a distinct vocalist. On this song she reaches some of her most impressive octaves, the way some of her vocal highs hang in the air is breathtaking, they can cut right through you. For a song that wasn’t originally going to make the final cut, Comfort is a perfect bookend to the album. It’s a bit of a reverse to Pressure To Party, except this time Jacklin is thinking of the man she left and is hopeful for his sake, as well as hers that he’s going to be okay after she left him. It offers a slightly different perspective than the other tracks on the album and it helps to summarise some of the records main themes.
Crushing is an example of how to write about love, breakups, and self-worth. Jacklin doesn’t care about societal perceptions of how she’s expected to deal with these issues, instead, she does it her own way. It’s an album that sees her confused, upset, awkward and reflective. As well as her outstanding lyricism, her brand of folk, country and pop music isn’t overly-reliant on distinguishable hooks, instead, it successfully immerses the listener in evocative palettes of emotion.