Julia Jacklin

Julia Jacklin

The second full-length album from Australian singer/songwriter Julia Jacklin, Crushing embodies
every possible meaning of its title word. It’s an album formed from sheer intensity of feeling, an
in-the-moment narrative of heartbreak and infatuation. And with her storytelling centered on bodies
and crossed boundaries and smothering closeness, Crushing reveals how our physical experience of
the world shapes and sometimes distorts our inner lives.
“This album came from spending two years touring and being in a relationship, and feeling like I
never had any space of my own,” says the Melbourne-based artist. “For a long time I felt like my
head was full of fear and my body was just this functional thing that carried me from point A to B,
and writing these songs was like rejoining the two.”
The follow-up to her 2016 debut Don’t Let the Kids Win, Crushing finds Jacklin continually
acknowledging what’s expected of her, then gracefully rejecting those expectations. As a result, the
album invites self-examination and a possible shift in the listener’s way of getting around the
world—an effect that has everything to do with Jacklin’s openness about her own experience.
“I used to be so worried about seeming demanding that I’d put up with anything, which I think is
common—you want to be chill and cool, but it ends up taking so much of your emotional energy,”
says Jacklin. “Now I’ve gotten used to calling out things I’m not okay with, instead of just burying
my feelings to make it easier on everyone. I’ve realized that in order to keep the peace, you have to
speak up for yourself and say what you really want.”
Produced by Burke Reid (Courtney Barnett, The Drones) and recorded at The Grove Studios (a
bushland hideaway built by INXS’ Garry Gary Beers), Crushing sets Jacklin’s understated defiance
against a raw yet luminous sonic backdrop. “In all the songs, you can hear every sound from every
instrument; you can hear my throat and hear me breathing,” she says. “It was really important to me
that you can hear everything for the whole record, without any studio tricks getting in the way.”
On the album-opening lead single “Body,” Jacklin proves the power of that approach, turning out a
mesmerizing vocal performance even as she slips into the slightest murmur. A starkly composed
portrait of a breakup, the song bears an often-bracing intimacy, a sense that you’re right in the room
with Jacklin as she lays her heart out. And as “Body” wanders and drifts, Jacklin establishes Crushing
as an album that exists entirely on its own time, a work that’s willfully unhurried.
From there, Crushing shifts into the slow-building urgency of “Head Alone,” a pointed and
electrifying anthem of refusal (sample lyric: “I don’t want to be touched all the time/I raised my
body up to be mine”). “As a woman, in my case as a touring musician, the way you’re touched is
different from your male bandmates—by strangers and by those close to you,” notes Jacklin. On the
full-tilt, harmony-spiked “Pressure to Party,” she pushes toward another form of emotional
freedom. “When you come out of a relationship, there’s so much pressure to act a certain way,” says
Jacklin. “First it’s like, ‘Oh, you’ve gotta take some time for yourself’…but then if you take too
much time it’s, ‘You’ve gotta get back out there!’ That song is just my three-minute scream, saying
I’m going to do what I need to do, when I need to do it.” Crushing also shows Jacklin’s autonomy on
songs like “Convention,” an eye-rolling dismissal of unsolicited advice, presented in elegantly
sardonic lyrics (“I can tell you won’t sleep well, if you don’t teach me how to do it right”).
Elsewhere on Crushing, Jacklin brings her exacting reflection to songs on loss. With its transportive
harmonies and slow-burning guitar solo, “Don’t Know How to Keep Loving You” ponders the
heartache in fading affection (“I want your mother to stay friends with mine/I want this feeling to
pass in time”). Meanwhile, on “Turn Me Down”—an idiosyncratically arranged track embedded
with hypnotic guitar tones—Jacklin gives an exquisitely painful glimpse at unrequited devotion (“He
took my hand, said I see a bright future/I’m just not sure that you’re in it”). “That song destroyed
me in the studio,” says Jacklin of “Turn Me Down,” whose middle section contains a particularly
devastating vocal performance. “I remember lying on the floor in a total state between what felt like
endless takes, and if you listen it kind of sounds like I’m losing my mind.” And on “When the
Family Flies In,” Jacklin shares her first ever piano-driven piece, a beautifully muted elegy for the
same friend to whom she dedicated Don’t Let the Kids Win. “There are really no words to do justice
to what it feels like to lose a friend,” says Jacklin. “It felt a bit cheap to even try to write a song
about it, but this one came out on tour and it finally felt okay to record.
Despite its complexity, Crushing unfolds with an ease that echoes Jacklin’s newfound self-reliance as
an artist. Originally from the Blue Mountains, she grew up on her parents’ Billy Bragg and Doris
Day records and sang in musicals as a child, then started writing her own songs in her early 20s.
“With the first album I was so nervous and didn’t quite see myself as a musician yet, but after
touring for two years, I’ve come to feel like I deserve to be in that space,” she says.
Throughout Crushing, that sense of confidence manifests in one of the most essential elements of the
album: the captivating strength of Jacklin’s lyrics. Not only proof of her ingenuity and artistic
generosity, Jacklin’s uncompromising specificity and infinitely unpredictable turns of phrase
ultimately spring from a certain self-possession in the songwriting process.
“As I was making this album there was sort of a slow loosening of pressure on myself,” Jacklin says.
“There’ve been some big life changes for me over the last few years, and I just found it too tiring to
try to cover things up with a lot of metaphors and word trickery. I just wanted to lay it all out there
and trust that, especially at such a tense moment in time, other people might want to hear a little

Christian Lee Hutson

To merely call Christian Lee Hutson an old soul would be to deny the vibrancy of his sound. Championed by LA Record as "sparse and graceful," Hutson writes songs that the SF Bay Guardian describes as, ”... Foreboding, bluesy love ballads laden with longing nostalgia.” Despite the maturity and commitment to tradition found in the 22-year-old singer-songwriter’s songs, they vibrate with a youthful energy as if a drunk and sedentary George Jones was being channeled through a drunk and animated Conor Oberst.

Hutson’s debut solo E.P. Will Never Break Up marked his stylistic shift away from the dustbowl-era sound of the recently defunct Driftwood Singers in favor of a more recent tradition of country songwriting in the vein of Steve Earle and Dwight Yoakam. This lean towards the modern continues with Hutson's full-length debut The Hell With It, out on Trailer Fire Records in March. The Hell With It finds Hutson working once again alongside Grammy-nominated producer David Mayfield, who also produced the Driftwood Singers' debut.

Christian Lee Hutson still maintains the same rigorous touring schedule that took the Driftwood Singers across the U.S. and back any number of tread-wearing times, so come out and join him for a sour drink of some sort and some newborn songs that retain a feel so well-worn, weathered, and welcoming that they whimper and creak as they pull a stool out for you at the bar.



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