Julia Jacklin Nails Ballads & Garage Rockers at Rough Trade (SHOW REVIEW)

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Julia Jacklin’s Don’t Let the Kids Win was one of 2016’s best offerings. Aussie-born Jacklin and her band pair lyrics about deep fears, rejection, and self-realization with a mix of clanging garage rock guitars and soft, homespun arrangements that showcase Jacklin’s angelic, but strong vocals. After her standout set at the 2017 Newport Folk Festival, it was a treat to have Jacklin back on the east coast, and in a cozier setting at Rough Trade in Brooklyn on November 13th.

Jacklin took the stage following a dreamy opening set from Atlanta-bred wunderkind Faye Webster and her band (with that incredible pedal steel). Webster stuck mostly to tunes off this year’s self-titled release, and delivered a flawless set, priming us for another from Jacklin.

Jacklin opened with “Leadlight” and continued with songs like the rocking “Pool Party” and “Coming of Age” and the stop-you-in-your-tracks stunning “Motherland”, before moving into some new stuff. She included the recently released singles “Eastwick”, haunting and moody, and “Cold Caller”, heartbreaking and honest. And if the new tracks she shared, with their loud, heavier guitar melodies and faster tempos, are what we’ve got to look forward to on a future Jacklin release, we’re in for a treat.

Still, Jacklin nails a ballad like no other. As a companion to the song “Elizabeth”, she shared the story of how the song’s namesake (and her best friend) broke her arm while in an excited hurry after finding out the band they’d played in back then had just booked a festival. It was, ultimately, what forced Jacklin to hone her guitar skills.

Jacklin’s band retreated to let her close the show with a solo performance of the album’s title track, “Don’t Let the Kids Win”, a song that’s equal parts stark and sweet. In it, Jacklin seems to be issuing a warning – don’t be selfish and keep your loved ones close. “I’ve got a feeling/This won’t ever change/Gonna keep on getting older/It’s gonna keep on feeling strange,” she sings. It would have left us all in tears on our way out the doors had she not returned for a brief encore to perform the more sonically more epic “Hay Plain”. Regardless, it stuck with us long after we left.

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