Many of Julia Jacklin’s songs take place in cars. She writes on the road and it shows, particularly in her new record Crushing, which she developed during the two years she spent touring off the back of her acclaimed 2016 debut album, Don’t Let the Kids Win.
In album opener ‘Body’, Jacklin sings about the taxi ride home after breaking up with a long-term partner at an airport: “Eyes on the driver, hands in my lap, heading to the city to get my body back.” The automotive motif makes sense for a breakup album – getting out of a relationship can feel like stretching out after spending all day cooped up in a coupé: your legs become legs again; your heart becomes yours again.
Jacklin’s music sounds good in cars, too. Even cars with crappy speakers. Her arrangements are simple, aiming not to weigh down the two things that give her music wings: her lyrics and her voice. While probably nothing in Crushing will crush you quite like the timeless truth of Don’t Let the Kids Win’s title track, you might find yourself mentally storing some of these new songs away, to be queued up in future emotional scenarios, particularly Don’t Know How To Keep Loving You’ and ‘Comfort’. What’s new for Jacklin in Crushing? ‘When the Family Flies In’, Jacklin’s first piano-and-voice piece, kind of drags.
Being unpretentious means that your songs give up their deepest secrets on the first listen, and you can tell when there’s not much beyond that. The real revelation is indeed the first track, which both encapsulates the themes of the album and somehow feels totally separate from it. ‘Body’ is beautifully unnerving and unique, the soundtrack to a high-production Australian crime drama, and shows Jacklin’s muscle for beat-by-beat storytelling.