To get a sense of the emotional nuance evident throughout Julia Jacklin's new album, look no further than its homonym of a title. On Crushing, Jacklin analyses why something that was once so hopeful, exciting and innocent – a crush – can then become a source of immense pain. Over 10 folk-rock songs, brought to life with full-bodied, textural production, Jacklin leaves no emotional stone unturned as she tries to forge through a messy new post-breakup reality.
After first introducing the world to her skilful songwriting on her debut Don't Let the Kids Win, Jacklin has only expanded her ability to communicate the way our emotions are reflected back to us in life's most normal, regular details. On When The Family Flies In, Jacklin tries to reach a loved one while mourning the loss of a friend – but a poor phone connection leaves her sitting with her grief, alone. On Turn Me Down, she undertakes a two-day road journey back to Melbourne with an unrequited love. After an extraordinary crescendo in which she begs him to "please, just, turn me down", the song falls back to a quiet bed of lightly strummed guitar, at which point Jacklin asks politely: "Don't look at me/look at the centre line."
Much of Crushing is about the painful process of reclaiming a sense of self after a break-up – and more specifically, Jacklin's relationship with her body and womanhood. On Body, the album's arresting, enigmatic opener, the possession of a private photograph by a childish ex-boyfriend leads her to ironically dismiss her own agency: "well I guess it's just my life/and it's just my body". Pressure to Party is a brash banger on which Jacklin begrudgingly promises she'll return to socialising soon, while on Good Guy, she asks for brief comfort in a one night stand: "I don't care for the truth when I'm lonely/I don't care if you lie".
There's sadness abound on Crushing, but Jacklin treats her emotions with such clarity and care that it never becomes unbearable – rather, Crushing breathes with hope as Jacklin leans into her self-discovery. Nevertheless, I'd advise listening to Crushing alone, as it's unlikely you'll make it to the end without crying.
Julia Jacklin, Crushing
A break-up journey as finely detailed as a tapestry