Don’t call Julia Jacklin’s music country. The Australian singer-songwriter may mold styles and sing with a warble, but it’s not influenced by Western musicians.
“I feel like that label washes over some other parts of my music, and no one wants a label,” she laughs. “Though, I must admit I do enjoy some country tunes.”
Unlike most kids, Jacklin got her start in music through formal singing lessons, learning German, chords, opera, Italian, scales, and more. It’s a regimented way to sing, and an even more regimented way to be introduced to music. “I can appreciate it, but that’s not what I listen to now,” she says. “I lived in a small town and that was the first teacher my mom looked up in the phone book. I think I was very unaware of whether or not it was a weird thing to do. When I began looking towards other musical styles, I didn’t see any other option except to leave the city.”
Just before that, when she was 14, Jacklin heard Fiona Apple’s Extraordinary Machine for the first time. She fell in love, in part because she realized her own lyrics could get autobiographical in that way, too. “It was the first time I found lyrics that I really liked and a vocal tone unlike any I had heard before,” Jacklin says. “I thought had to sing really high and faultlessly, but then I learned I didn’t have to.”
Part of the reason she veers towards personal lyrics on her debut LP, Don’t Let The Kids Win, is to avoid fraud, or at the very least feeling like one. “You’re not struggling to write from someone else’s perspective all the time,” she explains. “I think that kind of makes it okay for me to cancel out feeling too vulnerable or exposing too much about myself, in part because I keep things relatively above board compared to other songwriters. I do feel lucky that I’ve managed to figure out how to balance that. But then there’s other moments, you know. Singing about sex in front of your dad? Not the best feeling in the world.” She laughs.
Since Julia Jacklin finds a balance between the intimacy of honesty and the warmth of instrumental ease, her music grows into itself in time, rewarding repeat listens with familiar comforts. As a newcomer, she has yet to be tainted by the industry. However, now that she’s touring the rounds with a promotion team behind her, Jacklin can’t help but notice how different being a “musician” really is when you’re presenting an album to the industry that was never a product of that very industry to begin with.
“Ever since SXSW, I had a very short amount of time to adjust as things entered a completely different world than my past life,” she says. “Playing and recording with my friends turned into soul-searching every day on tour around the world. Now I have so much more admiration for touring musicians. Suddenly a lot more people are listening, and a lot of them don’t particularly care about your feelings when they comment on your music. There’s a lot more pressure, but I’m trying to push that away.”
Yet she handles it well. Julia Jacklin, much like her music, rises to fame with grace. It seems some of her childhood dreams may come true in a year or two. Others, like touring with Father John Misty, may happen even sooner than she thinks. It’s all possible when you’ve got a memorable voice and even more memorable tunes, both of which she wields with the charm of someone yet to become corrupt. In fact, Jacklin never may, and the world will be better because of it.
MARLON WILLIAMS & THE YARRA BENDERS, JULIA JACKLIN. FRI 9.30. GREAT SCOTT, 1222 COMM. AVE., ALLSTON. 9PM/18+/$10. GREATSCOTTBOSTON.COM