Julia Jacklin stands on stage at The Louisiana in Bristol as motionless as a statue, closes her eyes and manages to hush the entire room. All eyes are upon her as she starts to sing. There is a mesmerising quality to her voice, something about the rich, dreamy swoopiness which suits the Australian’s alt- country indie folk material. Then there’s her ability to express a deep shade of melancholy during the more wistful and sad songs. Jacklin cites Angel Olsen as an influence, and they share an ability to convey an intensity of emotion, all the more effective for its simple and controlled delivery.
Jacklin’s style is very minimal and cool, she’s utterly focused and wastes no time on any extra vocal flourishes. The audience at The Louisiana seemed transfixed throughout the gig, without those lapses where people tend to flit off to the bar.
She takes a few moments here and there for some banter with the audience plus there’s an amusing story about her guitarist Blain, who was ill the night before and threw up four times on stage – without missing a note. That’s professionalism for you. Oh the trials of touring.
The evening showcases several of the tracks on her latest album Don’t Let the Kids Win. Of the songs on the album, Coming of Age is a favourite, it’s a sexily rollicking number which belies its subject matter – about time ticking along and those sudden moments of wondering where life is taking you. LA Dream is about relationship break up, a perfect number to reveal Jacklin’s mournful quality; Pool Party is a gorgeous country ballad, so dreamy you want to just sink into it… naturally it’s going to have some twist in the tail, and indeed the song is about a partner with a substance abuse problem.
So this is very much an album about where Jacklin stands now in her life, facing perceived new responsibilities as carefree youth melts away, although to be fair she’s only in her mid 20s. One thing is for certain, with this tour and a heap of festival appearances coming up, Jacklin can in all fairness look at how far she’s come and say ‘I’ve arrived’.
Also, a word of praise for The Louisiana in Bristol, a lovely little venue with great sound and a very friendly vibe. Hope to be back.
1 March 2017