CHEVRON GARDENS REVIEW: Julia Jacklin hits home with Jess Ribeiro
In the distracting commotion of our day-to-day lives, the term ‘home’ becomes more layered than one would have initially thought. To some, it lingers on the periphery of work or study, a place to go to in order to rest and little more. To others, the concept of home forms part of one’s fully-fledged identity and spiritual connection to place, people and/or land. It became evident to me as I watched Julia Jacklin and Jess Ribeiro perform for the 2019 Perth Festival at Chevron Gardens that they share far more than just their first initial: through their song and story, home in its all variations comes back to embrace us for a few short hours.
In the wake of Julien Baker’s unfortunate cancellation of her Australian shows, the relatively unknown Melbourne songstress Jess Ribeiro was announced as the supporting act for folk-rock pop legend Julia Jacklin just a matter of weeks ago, and admittedly I was unsure what to expect. So it was with fresh ears and an open mind that I went to see her perform, and I was not disappointed. Ribeiro’s (and her band’s) sound is hard to quantify’ it has an ambience to it that sounded Beach House-esque at times. Think part dream pop, part folk rock with a dollop of self-termed jazz in the mix. Though, Ribeiro’s stage presence was one of the stand-outs of the night for me. At first glance, Ribeiro appears somewhat quiet, her voice a magnetic little-more-than whisper. Then a story about an unfortunate dating app encounter comes out, and the whole audience is in stitches. The dry humour she injects in between songs peeks out from the music itself, in addition to the relatability and sweet homeliness that local music often brings. This is most evident in songs such as ‘Love is the Score of Nothing’, inspired by her tennis-loving grandmother. It’s safe to say that I’m excited to hear more of Ribeiro in the near future.
Julia Jacklin, like the classics of yesteryear such as Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen, is a bloody good writer. Her songs are poetic and carefully crafted to convey a palette of meaning with every verse, delivered through stunning, willowy vocals. I remember the first time I heard the song ‘Eastwick’, now a personal favourite, over a year ago. It was the first track of Jacklin’s that I had ever heard, and I recall being utterly transfixed by the lyrics and hypnotic rock ballad pulse. It speaks of mourning and the inevitability of growing older, navigating the world and finding oneself in a world where home is a place to be found, despite being around us. ‘Don’t Let the Kids Win’ and ‘Motherland’ carry a similar sentiment. Hearing Jacklin bring some of her older music to the table cemented in my mind a belief: that Jacklin is one of those rare artists whose songs grow up with you and gain new meaning as you get older.
Julia Jacklin released a new album only days ago: the soul-wrenching Crushing. We were lucky enough to hear a selection of tracks that solidify the fact that Jacklin is on an upward career trajectory. One of my personal favourites is the heartbreaking ‘Don’t Know How to Keep Loving You’, a voicing of the impossible feelings that accompany a decaying relationship when caught between the unhappy prospect of staying with someone, and unbearableness of letting go. ‘Pressure to Party’, an upbeat pop track at face value, hides emotional anguish in its lyrics: ‘Pressure to come up with conversation / Makes the family fine with my isolation’. Crushing might just be the finest break-up album since Lorde’s 2017 release Melodrama — and as a sad song connoisseur, that’s not a light statement.
Jess Riberio and Julia Jacklin are artists and songwriters of the age, and to have been able to see both perform in one night was both a privilege and revelation. Music has been a vehicle of story for many millennia, and transportation comes in many forms. Sometimes, the place you need to be delivered to is the one you’ve been in all along — you just need to look a little harder within yourself.