Julia Jacklin- Crushing (Liberation Records) 2019
Julia Jacklin, the Australian singer-songwriter who introduced herself to the world with a promising 2016 debut entitled Don’t Let the Kids Win, proves with her sophomore album that she is one of the most passionate, dynamic and creative artists in the world today. With Crushing she puts together a hauntingly beautiful collection of intimate songs, sonic chapters of her deep search for herself in a conscious effort to understand her role in this world and take her rightful place as a proud, strong and independent woman. In a lot of ways, this album functions almost as a soundtrack to a coming- of -age movie in which she is the protagonist and we, the listeners, have the pleasure of watching the story unfold.
The journey- because that’s exactly what this is – begins with “Body”, a bittersweet ballad in which Julia discusses a breakup: the name of the man she left is never revealed, but it’s irrelevant because she is a gifted storyteller whose lyrics allow us to create scenarios in our head. At one point she sings “I’m gonna leave you/ I`m not a good woman when you’re around”, a powerful statement that expresses regret over her past decisions while celebrating the creation of a (hopefully) better future by freeing herself from the toxic relationship she was in. One feels that while Julia Jacklin is discussing her extremely personal experiences, she does it in a way that might motivate listeners in similar situations to also make some changes in order to improve their lives; sure, it would be far-fetched to say that she wants to be the voice of a generation, but maybe she realizes how therapeutic and inspirational music can be, and perhaps by opening her heart she is giving others the strength to do the same.
The curious thing is, even if she doesn’t want to necessarily be a spokeswoman for her generation, some of her verses will certainly resonate with the young feminist crowd of today’s #Me Too Movement. Just listen to “Head Alone” in which she talks about not wanting to be touched all the time and how she raised her body up to be hers; yes, the song was written while on the road felling suffocated, but any young women, especially if victims of sexual harassment, can read this and interpret it as a message of female empowerment. And that’s the beauty of Julia’s music: she sings about herself, but we always feel she is also talking about us or people we know; in other words, we relate to her.
Musically the record is equally fascinating, exploring different territories including indie rock, folk or even some bluesy influences (such as the incredible guitar solo on “Don’t Know How to Keep Loving You”, for example). Whatever the atmosphere is, one thing is for sure: it always sounds exciting and brutally honest. Crushing is a marvelous masterpiece created by not only an extraordinary artist, but also a fantastic human being. The Julia Jacklin era has began, folks!