.Julia Jacklin is one of the most captivating songwriters to hit the music scene over the last few years. I remember the first time I heard Leadlight come up on my Spotify recommendations. I loved the tone of her voice and the way she weaved not-so complex elements with provocative lyrics and thoughtful delivery. Then she released ‘Crushing‘ at took everything we knew about her and turned it up to 11. To this day I still have never heard any piece of music capture the very specific feeling she depicts in Body in even close to the same way.
â€œI care so much about the people around me, so much it makes me want to sleep forever, it feels so overwhelmingâ€Â says Jacklin.Â â€œI wasnâ€™t raised in an environment where language was used to express love and care, part of my songwriting process is me trying to rectify that, force myself to put words to those feelingsâ€ she says on her approach to songwriting. And she definitely does that and then some with her latest offering.
This week, she released ‘Pre Pleasure’, the epithet of everything we love about Jacklin’s songwriting. Exploring the “binary of casual crisis”, Jacklin analyses everything from mother/ daughter relationships, religious trauma, personal relationships and consent. Recorded in Montreal with co-producer Marcus Maquin (The Weather Station, The National) and members of her Canadian touring band bassist Ben Whiteley and guitarist Will Kidman, both also members of The Weather Station. She also collaborated with Drummer Laurie Torres, saxophonist Adam Kinner and had Owen Pallet (Arcade Fire) on board to arrange strings, which were recorded by a full orchestra in Prague.
Lydia Wears A Cross opens the record. With lo-fi programmed drums and block piano chords as her vocals quickly creep in to fill out the melody. Describing the pageantry of religion and feeling separated from it’s message outside of its’ spectacle. “I’d be a believer if it was all just song and dance” she sings. As her melody grows more complex and rhythmic, the programmed drums are replaced with a lively drum kit, adding to the showmanship of the track, much like song’s subject matter. The sound of this track is different than anything we’d heard from Jacklin before, and a brilliant introduction tot he album. Quirky, upbeat piano introduces Love, Try To Not Let Go as she repeats “oh, love is all that I want now”. The song although joyful holds a sense of sombreness; “give me time to figure some things out”. The track grows big, heavy and overdriven as she repeats “try not to let go”. “Can I give my love to everyone somehow?”.
A funky bassline opens Ignore Tenderness as she sings “I’ve been trying to be turned on by you, by myself, or anything”. Exploring her complicated relationship with sex and the emotional consequences of trying to fit the mould of a certain type of woman. “Such a good student of all that conflicting advice”. The music becomes more upbeat as she sings;
“Beneath the sheets youâ€™re just a cave, a plastic bucket, or a grave. Who said youâ€™re not what you get? You are what you gave away..”
Massive strings swell in as she sings in the second chorus as she sings “Leave no room for doubt that you are brave… strong but willing to be saved.”, resolving the ideas in the first chorus.
Crunchy guitars enter as she sings I Was Neon. Tonally similar to Pressure To Party, the song is introspective and beautiful lyrically, with a danceable groove. “Cut wide open, did I let in too much? I swear I could feel it…Am I gonna lose myself again?” Jacklin sings about losing her identity, or parts of her identity, that she once loved. Too In Love To Die starts with more sombre beginnings. With a resonating church organ supporting her gentle, reserved vocal delivery.
“I’m too in love with to die. God couldn’t take me now. Surely the love I feel for him would save my life somehow. It would throw me a rope. Reach out a hand. Surely the powers that be would understand.”
Slowly acoustic guitar creeps in as she flips the lyrics to doing what she can to protect her love, in the same way she feels it protects her from the bad parts of life. “Surely it’s love like this that keeps us alive”.
Gentle acoustic guitar opens Less Of A Stranger as she sings “Never gonna know you the way that I want to. Never gonna see you in the wild”. The song picks apart the generational gaps of mother-daughter relationships, and how you’ll only ever know your mother in one way, but never through the eyes of friends or when she was younger. “Don’t want her to change or feel bad for life’s remainder. I just wish my own mother was less of a stranger.” she ends, tying up the songs’ themes. Moviegoer is a slow burner, featuring a slow, simple drum beat as a sole saxophone mirrors her melodies, aiding to the lonely, isolating message in the songs’ lyrics.
“I won’t feel ashamed tonight. Treat it like a stage tonight. Turn over a new page and write” Jacklin sings to open Magic. “Put on something special, meet you at the door. Lead you to the bedroom our clothes scattered down the hall”. The song is triumphant as she embraces her sexuality, allowing herself to feel comfortable with that kind of connection. “For my final trick I ask if we could wait until I feel safe again”. This song is another brilliant piece of the puzzle to Jacklin‘s unashamedly vulnerable songs about her relationship with intimacy and her own body.
Be Careful With Yourself echoes similar themes as Too In Love To Die as she expresses her daily concerns for someone she loves so much, she feels she can’t live without.
“Please stop smoking, want your life to last a long time. If you donâ€™t stop smoking, Iâ€™ll have to start, shorten mine. When you go driving, would you stick to the limit? Iâ€™m making plans for my future and I plan on you being in it.”
She opens. The chords are minimal, like an intimate conversation between two people. The song sounds hopeful and joyful as you listen, designed in such a way that you feel like you’re falling in love alongside her. Distorted guitars open closing track End Of A Friendship, giving the song an old ’60s rock song kind of sound. Her melody choices are interested as she sings higher with ever line, forcing the listener to focus on her lyrics. The song describes exactly as the title suggests; the end of a friendship. Cinematic strings swirl throughout the track, mirroring her verse melody. “All my love is spinning round the room. If only it would land on something soon.”. The production on this song is mesmerising, a standout of the album.
Ever since Julia Jacklin started releasing, she’s always had a unique way to captivate with every song. And this album is no exception. ‘Pre-Pleasure’ is possibly Jacklin‘s best collection of work; an intimate detailing of life, relationships and everything mundane, spun out into something introspective and wonderful. I cannot wait to see what she has in store next.
‘Pre-Pleasure’ is available now on all platforms.
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With thanks to Mushroom Group