Julia Jacklin live at Rough Trade
A long queue snakes towards the back of East London’s sizeable Rough Trade record shop. Each person holds an album under their arm, patiently waiting for its creator to sign it. In front of the line stands Australian singer/songwriter Julia Jacklin, who is happily autographing CDs and vinyl. Despite being tired from a 4.30am wake-up call, along with the general travails of having been on a tour since August and with a drive to Calais ahead of her that afternoon, Jacklin takes the time to chat at length with every person in the queue.
On stage earlier, she spoke with humility and seemed genuinely surprised that so many people had made their way through the London drizzle to see her, yet her 40-minute performance left no-one in any doubt as to why she has been receiving plaudits from every direction. Playing songs from her debut album, Don’t Let The Kids Win, she demonstrated a vocal which was equally warm yet haunting, with lyrics displaying fine storytelling that compares to the likes of Laura Marling. Backed by her band for most of the set, songs such as Pool Party got heads nodding and toes tapping, while her stark delivery of the album’s title track was spine-tingling.
It was the same mesmerising vocal that had first drawn me – entirely by chance – to Julia Jacklin in January. I was working at Sydney Festival in sunny Hyde Park one afternoon when I heard her words drifting through the air as she played a free outdoor show. Immediately, I was a fan. Judging by how many of the audience were now hanging around to grab a photo and a signature at the conclusion of this London in-store gig, it was clear that they too had been charmed by the intelligence of her lyricism, the quality of her songwriting and that awesome voice.
As the crowd eventually filtered back into the murky November day, the hard-working Jacklin headed off to record a podcast before setting off to play one last gig in Europe. She would then embark on the long journey back to Australia to continue her tour there, her hectic schedule illustrating just what a year it has been for the unassuming musician from the Blue Mountains. Her album has been universally lauded by critics and fans alike and her live shows have garnered glowing reviews. One senses though that this is just the beginning. Goodness knows just how much higher her star will have ascended by the time she returns to London to play a headline show at The Scala in March. It feels as though she is on the cusp of something truly special.
Julia Jacklin’s tour continues through Australia from November through to Laneway in February, after which she will be back in Europe. Check out all of the dates/venues at juliajacklin.com.
Review by Bobby Townsend.