From the opening lines of her 2016 debut, Julia Jacklin showed a knack for translating everyday memories into young-adult revelations. “You were taller than my bedroom door frame,” she sang. “Hit me hard when I found height don’t make a man, no.” On the Australian singer-songwriter’s second album, Crushing, those revelations turn existential. It’s a subdued yet arresting LP that blends sweet indie-pop with folk introspection and delicate piano balladry, as Jacklin offers up concise self-realizations without fuss or fanfare. “I have your back,” she offers early on, “more than I have mine.”
A breakup record of sorts, Crushing portrays the micro-stages that can follow a split: the endless night when it becomes clear things need to end (“Don’t Know How To Keep Loving You”); the momentary crises in a breakup’s immediate wake (“When the Family Flies In”); being forced to feel fun when you’re not yet ready (“Pressure to Party”). On the first of those songs, she expresses her emotional paralysis over a meditative riff that recalls Wilco and Courtney Barnett. “I want your mother to stay friends with mine,” is all she can muster.
Jacklin seems fascinated by corporeality and consciousness, the ways in which she can learn from and communicate with her own physicality. On “Body,” an overwhelming sensory experience leads to new emotional awareness: “I felt the changing of the seasons,” she sings, “all of my senses rushing back to me.” By the very next song, the standout “Head Alone,” she’s disputing Descartes’ “I think, therefore I am” formulation, employing clever metaphor to center her bodily existence: “Give me a full-length mirror/So I can see the whole picture,” she pleads. “My head alone gives nothing away.”
When Jacklin isn’t waxing philosophical on mind-body duality, she’s simply showing the special way she processes the world around her. The result is a profound statement that stands as an early candidate for this year’s strongest singer-songwriter breakthrough.