Julia Jacklin at Whelan’s, Dublin, on March 30th 2019
Over the course of two albums Julia Jacklin has become the darling of the indie world, thanks to savagely personal songs that draw blueprints in the blood of failed relationships and the complexities of life, long-distance relationships, social media, sex tapes and all the other tribulations that make modern life rubbish.
“Do you still have that photograph? Would you use it against me? I guess it’s just my life, and it’s just my body,” she asks, preparing for the worst on Body, a perfect snapshot of Jacklin’s ability to cut through the bullshit with surgical precision. The simple shuffle accompaniment is the perfect foil for the hypnotic drawl of her voice, which sucks you in with ease and asks you to read between the lines of her vivid lyrics to find more truth beneath.
The throwback country melodies of Leadlight and Motherland showcase how Jacklin makes the simple seem transcendental, her never showy voice acting as an emotive grenade. When The Family Flies In is presented as a duet and showcases Georgia Mulligan, who had ably opened the show earlier in the evening and who is an integral part of Jacklin’s live setup.
She is joined by another unexpected guest at Whelan’s – the pin-drop silence which she commands is such that the rattle of the air-conditioning units add an unexpected percussive element throughout the performance.
“This Is for all the couples who are going to break up soon. I’m just giving you the little push you need,” she quips before Don’t know How To Love you – the emotional centrepiece of her new album ‘Crushing’ has added bite live. As does the latter-half of Turn Me Down, its final note no doubt alerting the hairs on the back of anybody with a hint of a heart’s neck to stand to attention.
“I grew up thinking my stepdad was Irish. It turned out he just loves Luka Bloom and the tin whistle,” she quips, recanting miserable, bleak childhood holidays bored in Irish pubs prior to Don’t Let The Kids Win, which turns out to be an unexpected highlight of the evening. This is followed quickly by Good Guy, which she states is about “intimacy and the Internet, kind of.” This emotive one-two leaves Whelan’s reaching for their emotional comfort blankets.
The straight-up rock’n’roll of You Were Right almost feels out of place following such dainty perfection, but perhaps Jacklin knows that if she pushes the crowd’s buttons much more the tears may start to flow. The crowd are clearly reinvigorated by this palate cleanser, and Pool Party from Jacklin’s first album ‘Don’t Let The Kids Win’ sweeps them along into sub-singalong territory. Head Alone raises things up further with its feminist rallying cry of “I don’t want to be touched all the time. I raised my body up to be mine.”
Pressure to Party further emphasises why Julia Jacklin has a firm grip of the zeitgeist, with a stirring take on putting yourself out there again to “try and find love again”
Julia Jacklin is one of those rare things – an artist perfectly attuned to the times, making music that couldn’t sound further from now if she tried. But that’s exactly what makes it real and vital. Her organic take on life transcends barriers, trends and buzzwords to deliver an unfiltered take on the modern world. More of this please.