Review Summary: A full-length mirror
There’s something about an artist when stripped down to their most fragile state; one where they reveal dark secrets and vivid details only a closest friend would typically know. To listen to Crushing
, one also must experience Julia Jacklin’s most personal moments with her. As the sparse opening track, “Body” comes to an end, the Australian songwriter has already unloaded a lot
from her chest. It’s a song with so much going on lyrically – a fight in an airport, a break-up, the aftermath – that it takes a few listens just to catch up with every vulnerable detail.
As Jacklin reminisces through the many, many verses of “Body”, she spills her guts all over the floor: I remembered early days/When you took my camera/Turned to me, twenty-three/Naked on your bed/Looking straight at you.
Things get a little darker when she questions if her ex still has that photograph
, and would he use it to hurt her？
So why is Jacklin telling us all these intimate details？
It’s simple. Crushing
is her therapy.
For her to just put this out in the word as a way of saying, “I’m not going to let this define me” is a bit chill-inducing. Recovering from the ruins of a destructive relationship, Jacklin’s approach to Crushing
is to just tell it how it is. Not every song is a poignant ballad of heartbreak, though. Following the confessional opener, “Head Alone” is one of the most addicting tracks she’s ever written – with its Angel Olsen-esque vocals and jangly guitars working in perfect harmony. It’s also full of lyrical gems as she tries repeatedly to separate love and sex. Hearing her shout “You can love somebody without using your hands” to an ignorant lover is one of the album’s most raw, affecting moments. Jacklin’s vocals are far from one-dimensional here, switching between a soft croon and a gruff demeanor with the ease of a light switch. “You Were Right” and “Pressure to Party” are also highly upbeat cuts, showcasing the best of Jacklin’s country-rock side. The latter closes out the opening trio of songs with a bang – a cute indie rock tune that refuses to leave your head with its constant, circular motion.
The quirky tracks add an extra kick to Crushing
, but it’s often the softer moments when Jacklin has the most to say. “When the Family Flies In” is musically calm – little more than a hushed piano throughout – but, like “Body”, it has more of an affect than the more active numbers. The same could be said about the intoxicating closing track. Moments that might seem typical musically upon first listen are so rich in their lyrical content. Her storytelling ability raises these songs above just your standard indie fare. Crushing
is intimate but messy. It’s a break-up album at its core, but it’s also about reclaiming your independence and loving your own mind and body. There are so many substantial moments that will stick with you. When Jacklin requests a full-length mirror in “Head Alone” – her voice as silky-smooth as ever – she’s more or less declaring what Crushing
is. It’s an album that truly allows you to see the whole picture, as Jacklin examines her decisions, her purpose – even the value of her body. Few albums can make such bold statements without seeming heavy-handed, but Jacklin’s sophomore effort feels as natural as the words rolling off her tongue.