Julia Jacklin’s debut is filled with a nascent wonder. Her songwriting is refreshingly youthful, remarking on small moments that become significant in our old age. Familiar folk progressions meet her beautifully restrained voice which create earworms that haunt my heart. The title track is an egregious offender in this case; I often murmur the refrain under my breath, but it sounds even more pained in the original recording:
I’ve got a feeling
That this won’t ever change
We’re gonna keep on getting older
It’s gonna keep on feeling strange
Breaking from the gentle splashes of drums and guitars that are the bedrock for most of the album, “Coming of Age” sits alone as one of the noisiest tracks on the record. The grunge attitude shrouds a painful self-truth, a sentiment which prevents it from feeling out of place. Her vocals are a little muddled in the excitement, but her unmistakable cadence shines through the 90s rock haze. This entire record is about growing up, but repeatedly, it seems that Jacklin finds it an odd experience.
There are emotional implications aplenty in symbols of travel, so unsurprisingly, there is quite a lot to unpack on the track “Same Airport, Different Man.” The progression of time here is implied, returning to the airport several times a year to say goodbye, regardless of who’s departing. Logic would dictate that the reverse would need to happen on the return flight- this time greeting a loved one or having them greet you- but life isn’t so linear. It is natural to instead meet new people and quietly slip from the lives of others. Standing among other travelers in this space becomes a tradition, but only a personal one: it cannot be shared with past partners for obvious reasons. It also cannot be shared with current partners for the same reason, that eventually they will live in the past, as a memory. A memory that manifests upon every return to the airport.
In a sense, ‘Don’t Let the Kids Win’ was a message to Jacklin herself. She is unabashed in her confrontation of the discomforts of growing older, singing about the ironies and regrets that may come along thereafter. Looking back years from now, her music will serve as evidence of this time in her life, as she–and the rest of us–mature. Thankfully, her art will surely age with grace.