Gig review: Julia Jacklin at Headrow House, Leeds

Julia Jacklin. Picture: Shervin Lainez
Julia Jacklin. Picture: Shervin Lainez
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Anxiety can be a crippling condition yet for some people it’s also a wellspring of creativity. So it proved to be for Julia Jacklin, whose debut album Don’t Let The Kids Win was fuelled by a quarter-life crisis that time was passing her by.

The Australian’s songs are saturated in these worries. “Will I be great?” she wonders on the alt-country ‘Motherland’, which could have been recorded by Angel Olsen in a parallel universe, while the indie-country pop of ‘Cold Caller’ finds her asking, “will I be a mother?”

This is no fragile singer-songwriter, though. With a three-piece backing band she rocks out on former single ‘Coming Of Age’, the drummer enthusiastically rat-a-tatting, while on ‘Small Talk’ she mixes childhood nostalgia with a dry sense of humour.

Even when she’s left solo on an electric guitar there’s a grit to her presence. She may have launched a career with a USP in angst but there’s defiance in her voice - especially on ‘Sweet Talk’ - that suggests she’s going to make something of her life.

Yet having already achieved a degree of success with her debut the two new tracks suggest her anxieties have been far from assuaged. Both lean towards the more indie-pop side of her oeuvre, with ‘Eastuck’ building from voice and guitar to a mini-epic.

As with the best of her material, they also turn her introspection into common experience. This sees her connect with the sold-out audience and proves that the kids can win even when they think they’re losing.

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