Release Date: Feb 22, 2019
Record label: Polyvinyl
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
A full-length mirror There's something about an artist when stripped down to their most fragile state; one where they reveal dark secrets and vivid details only a closest friend would typically know. To listen to Crushing, one also must experience Julia Jacklin's most personal moments with her. As the sparse opening track, "Body" comes to an end, the Australian songwriter has already unloaded a lot from her chest.
The Aussie songwriter mastered the art of the bittersweet ballad in her debut full-length, Don't Let The Kids Win, and this melancholy filters through to Crushing, but with a more stripped back style, allowing the plaster peel away, exposing the wound of losing someone - in both life and love. Opener, "Body", wears Jacklin's heavy heart on her sleeve, alongside wavering vocals that guide us through a painful altercation with an ex-partner at an airport: "I'm gonna leave you / I'm not a good woman when you're around" coos Jacklin as she realises their attempt to go somewhere is failing, and not just in the literal sense of getting kicked off the plane. While sombre strokes can be heard in most of the album tracks, lead single "Head Alone" has a pep in its step as it sets about defying the smothering side of intimacy.
Crushing is not named ironically. In fact, virtually everything about Julia Jacklin's second full length is as it first appears. After suffering a recent breakup, the Australian singer-songwriter has written a body of songs that express the pendulous swings brought about by that major life event, from elated liberty to shattered insecurity. Its directness is its strength - Jacklin has a facility for writing in plain truths that find the universal in the specific, doing the hard work so the listener doesn't have to.
With her evocative, uneasy debut album, Don't Let the Kids Win, singer/songwriter Julia Jacklin found critical and a certain amount of commercial success, reaching the Top 50 of the album chart in her native Australia. The follow-up, Crushing, is also intimate and narrative-based but manages to raise the stakes on intimacy. That's due in large part to the subject matter but also a recording directive to leave in natural sounds like breaths, instrument creaks, and refingering squeaks.
Crushing by name and crushing by nature, the singer-songwriter's second album is the sonic equivalent of cracking a smirk and jabbing your knee at an offending man-spreader Julia Jacklin's acoustic guitar and vocals-led second record 'Crushing' might take a raw, no-frills approach, but it captures the feeling of standing tall up and expanding again. Whether it's a shout of "give us a smile, darlin'" on the street, or a fellow commuter shoving your knee aside on the tube, women are expected , by certain people, to take up as little space, and cause as little disruption, as possible. 'Crushing' rejects all of that.
First record 'Don't Let The Kids Win' often seemed like a angsty lament on growing up and lost youth, with Julia Jacklin making a name for herself as a newcomer with a talent for writing rich indie songs with a country slant. 'Crushing' is more contemplative, flitting between a feeling of intimacy and isolation and often seems full of both at the same time, with Julia's aptitude for painting hyper-specific moments or situations stronger than ever. "I remembered early days when you took my camera turned to me, twenty-three, naked on your bed looking straight at ya," she murmurs on slow-burning album opener 'Body'.
On her second album, Julia Jacklin is discovering her body, and she just wants to see it for herself. "Give me a full-length mirror/So I can see the whole picture," the Australian singer-songwriter implores; "My head alone gives nothing away." She winds up clambering onto a chair to get a better look at herself, grasping for self-knowledge in the reflection staring back at her. It's a simple shift in perspective, but one that makes all the difference.
After touring for two years following her well-received debut, Julia Jacklin feels more comfortable as a musician. The Australian's lyrical confidence has grown and she uses that as a palette to lay out her vulnerability on new album Crushing. Jacklin has come a long way from singing in musicals and listening to Doris Day and Billy Bragg; her voice is seasoned past her 28 years.
The Lowdown: Australian Julia Jacklin took her introspective songwriting and rock-country tracks all around the world with the acclaim of her debut album, Don't Let the Kids Win, back in 2016. While this first album confronted coming of age and building up confidence in Jacklin's talents and individuality, her new record, Crushing, is rediscovering what about herself she may have buried during a long-term relationship, without erasing the experiences that it created. She uses the body and the spaces it consumes and shrinks within as a driving theme throughout Crushing, uncovering the journeys her own body has taken as a romantic partner, a friend, a woman, and a world-touring musician.
Rating: NNNN On Body, the first track of Julia Jacklin's new album, she asks the question haunting a generation: "Do you have that photograph? Would you use it to hurt me?" The follow-up album to the Aussie singer/songwriter's 2016 debut, Don't Let The Kids Win, is a deeply relevant collection of songs for this #MeToo era. It explores autonomy, as well as power dynamics between women, men and lovers. But Jacklin does not pound the listener over the head with these themes.
T he dual senses of that word hang heavy in the title of this Sydney singer-songwriter's second album, which ruminates on infatuations turned millstones over haunted Americana and garage rock. So yes: a barrel of laughs. But truly, in among the scab- and finger-picking and lines that creep into your ear and needle ("Do you still have that photograph? Would you use it to hurt me?" Jacklin wonders among the watercolour chord progressions of Body) are indeed blasts of bitter humour.