RIYL: Mazzy Star, Angel Olsen, Snowblink, C86
Label: Polyvinyl Records
Julia Jacklin is one of Polyvinyl‘s newest signees, and another name to keep tabs on in this unironic rise in alt-country. Her inspiration for her music career actually came in the form of Britney Spears, as the record’s synopsis will tell you. Jacklin’s only 25, at press time, by the way. Jacklin, when she was younger, thought about why she “hasn’t done anything” at 12 while Britney Spears had accomplished much. Here we are, though, with Jacklin’s debut seeing release on a storied label such as Polyvinyl and accomplishing so at 25 at that.Â Jacklin’s undeniable drawl rocks you gently with the somber whine often present in her electric guitar chords, feeling like it’s going to drift off in to Beach House territory. From the few songs that can be heard at the moment, Jacklin and her stick to a few things and do them well. This is something you can kick back and relax to. Listen toÂ “Pool Party” below via the SoundCloud stream and a couple other songs from the album by clicking the Buy Now button – see what you think of it. Cheers!
Julia Jacklin thought sheâd be a social worker.
Growing up in the Blue Mountains to a family of teachers, Jacklin discovered an avenue to art at the age of 10, thanks to an unlikely source: Britney Spears.
Jacklin chanced upon a documentary about the pop star while on family holiday. âBy the time Britney was 12 sheâd achieved a lot,â says Jacklin.âI remember thinking, âShit, what have I done with my life? I havenât achieved anything.â So I was like, âMum, as soon as we get home from this holiday I need to go to singing lessons.â
Classical singing lessons were the only kind in the area, but Jacklin took to it. Voice control was crucial, and Jacklin flourished. But the lack of expression had the teen seeking substance, and she wound up in a high school band, âwearing surf clothing and doing a lot of high jumpsâ singing Avril Lavigne and Evanescence covers. It wasnât much but she was hooked.
Jacklinâs second epiphany came after high school. Travelling in South America she reconnected with high school friend and future foil Liz Hughes. The two returned home to the Blue Mountains and started a band, bonding over a love of indie-Appalachian folk trio Mountain Man and the songs Hughes was writing.
âI would just sing,â says Jacklin. âBut as I got my confidence I started playing guitar and writing songs. I wouldnât be doing music now if it wasnât for Liz or that band. I never knew it was something I could do. â
Inspired, Jacklin began educating herself. From Fiona Apple she learned to be bold with words; from Anna Calvi, the cut and presence of electric guitar; and from Angel Olsen, that interpretation triumphs over technique. Now living in a garage in Glebe and working a day job on a factory production line making essential oils, the 25-year old found time to hone her craft â to examine her turns of phrase, to observe the stretching of her friendship circles, to wonder who she was and who she might become. That document is Jacklinâs masterful debut album, Donât Let The Kids Win - an intimate examination of a life still being lived.
Recorded at New Zealandâs Sitting Room studios with Ben Edwards (Marlon Williams, Aldous Harding, Nadia Reid), Donât Let The Kids Win courses with the aching current of alt-country and indie-folk, augmented by Jacklinâs undeniable calling cards: her rich, distinctive voice, and her playful, observational wit.
You can hear it in opener âPool Partyâ, a gorgeous lilt bristling with Jacklinâs tale of substance abuse by the pool; in the sparse, âElizabethâ, wrestling with both devotion and admonishment of a friend; in detailing the slow-motion banality of a relationship breakdown in the woozy âL.A Dreamsâ; and in her resolve to accept the passing of time on the snappy fuzz of âComing Of Ageâ. The album hums with peripheral insights, minute in their moments but together proving an urge to stay curious.
âI thought it was going to be a heartbreak record,â says Jacklin of Donât Let The Kids Win. âBut in hindsight I see itâs about hitting 24 and thinking, âWhat the fuck am I doing?â I was feeling very nostalgic for my youth. When I was growing up I was so ambitious: Iâm going to be this amazing social worker, save the world, a great musician, fit, an amazing writer. Then you get to mid-20s and you realise you have to focus on one thing. Even if it doesnât pay-off, or you feel embarrassed at family occasions because youâre the poor musician still, thatâs the decision I made.â
In person Jacklin is funny, wry, quick to crack a joke. It makes the blunt honesty and prickly insight laced through her songwriting disarming, a dissonance she delights in. âEspecially coming from my family,â says Jacklin. âThey donât talk about feelings at all. I love writing songs about them and watching them listen and squirm. To me thatâs great. I enjoy it.â
The title track was the last song Jacklin wrote for the album. âMy sisterâs getting married soon,â she says of the closer. âAnd it hit me â we used to be two young girls and now that part of our lives is over. Seeing her talking about wanting to have a baby andâŠitâs like, man I canât believe weâre already here.â
Donât mistake this awareness for nostalgia. âItâs not that I want to go back to that time at all,â says Jacklin. âItâs trying to figure out how to be responsible when you donât identify with who you were anymore.â
âAll my friends at this age are freaking out. Everyoneâs constantly talking about being old. Donât Let The Kids Win is saying yeah weâre getting older but itâs not so special. Itâs not unique. Everyone has dealt with this and itâs going to keep feeling weird. So Iâm freaking out about it too but that song is trying to convince myself: letâs live now and just be old when weâre old.â
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