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Julia Jacklin seems to be courting the all too important, yet ever-elusive buzz. Helped along by the strength of debut LP Don’t Let The Kids Win the singer/songwriter has garnered critical support domestically and aboard. Yet even amongst the shoulder to shoulder crowd of Brisbane’s The Foundry at capacity, 25-year-old Jacklin cuts a figure of quiet confidence and nonchalance.
Kicking off a leg of sold-out Australian shows, the singer remains non-pulsed. Coursing with leaky dejection, Jacklin’s unique blend of existential woe and indie-leaning alt-country strikes a resonant chord. Emotive vocals quaver with gravitas. There is, no doubt, a degree of calculation behind her pop veneer, yet it doesn’t show. Amidst the sweeping sea of clamouring fans Jacklin sits in serenity. She draws the clear focus of the crowd, her band dropping in and out as required at the dictate of her quiet command.
Textured vocal lines enmesh the listener in a world of gloomy pop and the ephemera of Australian suburban life. Rendering the melancholic Leadlight Jacklin charms with jangly guitar fills and sweeping sincerity. Coming of Age delivers some set-rounding bombast, while the heartbroken doo-wop waltz of Pool Party provides an emotional gut punch. As the singer’s breakthrough single, Pool Party sates anticipation. It casts an unmistakable lull over the forlorn mistress’s enamoured crowd. Sauntering in pure pop brilliance, it sits somewhere between the arpeggiated pulse of Augie March’s One Crowded Hour and the husky melismas of Jeff Buckley. “My heart is heavy when you’re high/ So for me why won’t you try,” she implores.
As with contemporaries Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen, there’s something alluring within Jacklin’s lyrical narratives of depressive dismay, introspection, and drifting detachment. Despite the dejection, there’s a fierce femininity underscoring her signature sound. Straddling between youth and maturity, she seems perpetually locked at an all too relatable crossroads of uncertainty. Leaning over her telecaster she comes across as a composite frontwoman, her airy delivery and straight forward lyricisms ring with resonance. Emoting her signature sound, the earnest Jacklin attests to the notion that anguished alt-country may be slipping its way back into the purview of popular culture.
Photo: Rebecca Reid