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Blue Mountains-hailing singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin certainly followed the road less travelled to the release of her debut album Don’t Let The Kids Win – starting off with classical singing lessons as a kid because they were the only kind available.
Over the years that followed she found herself singing in a high school cover band, then, years later, writing her own music for a band before finally honing her craft as a solo artist. The result is an album that is a direct result of that journey, and one which takes technically beautiful vocals, rock, folk and pop influences, and situates it all within Jacklin’s increasingly confident indie-folk style.
The tracks on Don’t Let The Kids Win aren’t always upbeat, but even the more soothing laid back tunes have impressive melodic and instrumental substance. Leadlight is an example of a tune that functions with a quite minimalist instrumental – especially in the chorus. The melody takes you to unexpected places and the interaction between Jacklin’s vocals and the melody is quirky and fun.
One of the most impressive things about the more softly-spoken tunes that Jacklin creates – those with minimal instrumentation – is that they still sound as if they have quite full-bodied textures. Elizabeth and Same Airport are examples of this, showing off Jacklin’s vocals and abilities to stick to melodic structures that weave in and around the main, driving acoustic guitar. Songs like this really expose individual instruments and vocals, but the dulcet tones that she creates are breathtaking.
The lyrical content of Don’t Let The Kids Win is about taking stock of life, coming of age and wondering what you may have achieved and what else is left to achieve in life. Another track released in advance of the album is Coming Of Age, arguably Jacklin’s biggest radio hit to date since its release and, as its title suggests, a song which addresses the struggles with growing up and what that means.
Coming Of Age is an awesome example of the diversity with which Jacklin can write, giving off a more rock-centric and even at times grungy vibe. It’s definitely the hardest track on the record – based around a heavier guitar riff. It is unfortunate then that Jacklin doesn’t follow it up with anything that matches its vibrancy and catchiness on the rest of the record.
Julia Jacklin’s talent is vast, and with the tracks that were released from Don’t Let The Kids Win ahead of the full album’s release, the bar was set quite high. Being a songwriter who focuses on guitar and vocals predominantly, there’s a danger of an 11-song LP containing a few tracks that are a bit too similar, and Jacklin, unfortunately, falls into this trap through the middle of the record. There really needed to be another Coming Of Age for the sake of diversity, but it’s a diversity which we absolutely know she’s capable of.
Don’t Let The Kids Win is a solid debut album, and there are some incredible vocal skills shown off throughout. Jacklin has a huge amount of potential, and the steps she’s taken in writing this LP are only helping her get closer to it.