Is Julia Jacklin crushing on a new love? Or is an old one crushing her soul and spirit? The simple answer: Yes.
On Crushing, the outstanding followup to her acclaimed 2016 debut Don’t Let the Kids Win, the Australian singer-songwriter examines relationships from various sides and stages. And does so with an artfully jaundiced eye and a gift for narrative detail that sets her apart from the rest of the breakup-album pack. Look no further than album opener Body, featuring a man-boy lout who ruins a trip by getting busted smoking in the airplane washroom — but after Jacklin vows to dump him, she recalls a naked picture he once took of her, and wonders: “Do you still have that photograph? / Would you use it to hurt me? / Well, I guess it’s just my life / And it’s just my body.” It’s poignant and powerful. But it’s not the exception. Every one of these 10 tracks — whether she’s chronicling a breakdown in When the Family Flies In, complaining about the post-breakup Pressure to Party or simply wanting a night with a Good Guy — cuts just as deep and rings just as true. Better still: Everything comes voiced in quavering Cat Powerish vocals, and set against straightforward songwriting that switches between slow-strummed electric-guitar pop balladry and scrappy indie-rock shards. With all that going for her, don’t be surprised to see the masses doing some serious crushing on Jacklin. But in a good way, hopefully.