Writing by Elissa Michell
After plenty of time away, touring around the globe, Julia Jacklin is back with her second album. With the clear influence of life touring abroad, as well as a consistent thread of Australian references, Crushing is heavy with the heartache of a relationship ending, questions of physical and emotional intimacy, and how to move on.
Often slow and gentle, Jacklin vocals are deliberate and delicate – her vocal control is outstanding. She sets the tone of the album with “Body,” which describes, with heart-wrenching accuracy, the crisis moments as a relationship falls apart. “Don’t Know How To Keep On Loving You” drips with a sorrow and desperation that pinches your heart. After embedding yourself in each other’s lives for so long, how can you extricate yourself without losing so much? She pleads us to tell her how to keep on loving him, even when she knows it’s the end. It is almost painfully relatable when she gives words to that self-doubt and fear so many of us have felt when a relationship ends: “Who will I be, now that you’re no longer next to me?”
Another theme of this album is physical intimacy and ownership of one’s body. In “Head Alone” Jacklin bravely and honestly talks about feelings of disconnection with her own body, and the awkwardness of physical intimacy: “you can’t love somebody without using your hands”. Dealing with the anxiety that comes from feeling overwhelmed by touch and the dangers of sharing your body with another, especially in the digital age, she asks her ex-lover in “Body”: “do you still have that photograph? Would you use it to hurt me”?
But it is not all heartache and sorrow. Tracks like “Pressure to Party” are fired up, her lyrics charged with the strength and determination to get back in the game, while honest in her cluelessness in what to do in the aftermath of a breakup. She admits her shortcomings while staying defiant and true to herself. Similarly, “You Were Right” wavers between sassy defiance and confidence, while admitting to moments of weakness.With some feet-movers thrown in, this album is predominantly stripped-back, gentle instrumentals with soft and honest vocals true to Jacklin’s style. This album will make your heart heavy, but is unequivocally beautiful and comforting in its honesty and relatability. It is exactly what you need in moments of imminent and post- breakup anxiety when shit really hits the fan. But it is not all heartache – Crushing is hopeful and reassuring at the same time; the breakup album I wish I had owned years ago.