Julia Jacklin

Julia Jacklin @ The Mill, 7th November 2022

The last time I reviewed Julia Jacklin at The Castle and Falcon, I noted that it was unlikely I would be able to see her perform in a small venue again and her career has since continued to climb. Her latest album, PRE PLEASURE has deservedly received rave reviews across the press and increased airplay on 6 Music hence she is now playing The Mill.

I manage to catch the end of the support act, Erin Rae, a folk musician from Nashville whose latest album, Lighten Up, was unleashed at the beginning of the year. Lighten Up has been produced by the phenomenal Jonathan Wilson who has brought a Laurel Canyon vibe to the album. As she is playing solo tonight, this essence is not translated but the set evidences obvious comparisons with the likes of Joni Mitchell and she holds the audience’s attention which is no mean feat. Her voice flows throughout the venue with a reserved beauty that conveys the passion of the lyrics. I would love to see her play with a full band to hear the album performed in a format that is closer to its recording. I did appreciate the matches that she was giving away with her merchandise considering the title of the album.

Prior to her entrance, Julia Jacklin has the sound engineer play Celine Dion’s mammoth hit My Heart Will Go On. This is not surprising considering she noted in Uncut that her latest album was an attempt at keeping the joy of easy listening such as Dion but not being too pretty so drew on influences from bands such as Throbbing Gristle. As a solo figure with an electric guitar shrouded in a white beam of light, Jacklin opens the set with the title track from her first album, Don’t Let The Kids Win. Her voice has a delicacy to start but as she reaches for the higher notes, the power of her voice kicks in and you get a sense that this is a track to ease her into the performance. The band join her on stage for Be Careful With Yourself,a song that begins with a plea to a lover to quit smoking supported musically with a steady rhythm guitar line throughout emphasising strong indie sensibilities.

At this point Julia Jacklin addresses the audience, questioning why we are out on a Monday night before the enigmatic To Perth, Before the Border Closes. Released as a single during lockdown, this alluring track gently leads you along with a harmonised repetition of the phrase “everything changes” until you reach a superbly constructed crescendo that diminishes quickly to draw the song to a close. The songs from PRE PLEASURE evidence the evolution in Jacklin’s writing and instrumentation, Love Try Not To Let Go is a prime example with its lilting rhythm in contrast to the accentuated digs is enhanced by the strobe lighting. I Was Neon is further proof of this development, a superb rock track embracing fuzz with a hint of pop and an extended outro that uses lyrical repetition to great effect. On record, Lydia Wears A Cross is my favourite track from the new album with its simple keyboard chords over a Bon Tempe-esque beat. Live, this song is even more mesmerising, despite the dodgy start that gets laughed off. It is utter genius musically and lyrically, with the classic line “I’d be a believer, if it was all just song and dance”, and the desire for it to never end.

The songs that get the greatest response are those taken from the album Crushing that are scattered throughout the set. The laid back tempo of Body fully illustrates Jacklin’s vocal warmth which emanates with ease despite the sparse backing arrangement. Whereas Don’t Know To Keep Loving You demonstrates Julia’s skill at moving her vocal range and dynamics throughout a song from fragility to pain. With deadpan humour, she connects this track to a previous interaction she had with an audience member who had asked how to get over a break up to which she replied write a song, then realising that you end up singing it and so never get over the break up. Head Alone and Pressure To Party are played back to back and are brought out towards the end of the set. Head Alone with its return to indie genius and perfectly timed “hah” whereas Pressure To Party’s drive and garage rock riff sees the whole crowd moving in appreciation.

Rather than leave the stage for an encore, Jacklin introduces her fabulous band consisting of bassist Mimi Gilbert, drummer Laurie Torres, guitarist Will Kidman, and guitarist/keys Jennifer Aslett all of which have played an integral part in this phenomenal set. Hay Plain is the final song of the set returning the tempo to that of the beginning and “easing us back into a work day” with its elegant swell providing a fitting finale to a perfectly crafted and well-executed performance. If there is any musical justice in this world, it is unlikely I will be seeing Jacklin in such a small venue again; as a member of the audience noted, her album is a hell of lot better than Taylor Swift’s latest offering and look how well Swift is doing!

Review: Toni Woodward

Photograph courtesy of PR


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