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Cecil Whig - - ACCENT - By JOE ANTOSHAK

jan­toshak@ches­pub.com

It doesn’t take wis­dom to know that young peo­ple worry about ag­ing too. There’s worry about ca­reers, about mar­riage, about lost youth and glimps­ing mor­tal­ity. Ju­lia Jack­lin, a 25-year-old singer-song­writer from Aus­tralia, is no ex­cep­tion.

Again and again on her de­but al­bum “Don’t Let the Kids Win” (Oct. 7), she ex­poses her pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with the pas­sage of time and her own place within it, all through a shim­mer­ing alt­coun­try-folk lens. The col­lec­tion of songs has sprung from some­thing like a quar­ter-life cri­sis, writ­ten while Jack­lin worked at an essen­tial oil fac­tory in a sub­urb of Syd­ney, but it’s also a de­nounce­ment of that type of nos­tal­gia. Now, while Jack­lin is far from fa­mous by mu­sic in­dus­try stan­dards, she’s on an in­ter­na­tional tour that brought her through Philadel­phia last night (Sept. 27).

At first lis­ten, Jack­lin bears an un­mis­tak­able re­sem­blance to An­gel Olsen, who re­leased her sec­ond al­bum, “My Woman,” ear­lier this month. Both pos­sess voices that seem to float some­where above the mu­sic be­hind them; both can pick up the pace and turn gritty when the sit­u­a­tion calls for it.

But Jack­lin is less likely than Olsen to ob­scure her feel­ings, or maybe those feel­ings are just more eas­ily pack­aged. That’s not to take any­thing away from her artis­tic in­tegrity. On the pierc­ingly sim­ple ti­tle track, which con­cludes the al­bum, she im­plores her­self to make bet­ter de­ci­sions by re­flect­ing on past mis­takes.

“Don’t let your grand­mother die / while you’re away,” she sings. “A cheap trip to Thai­land’s not / gonna make up for never / get­ting to say good­bye.”

And the cho­rus feels like an ac­cu­rate con­clu­sion of the al­bum’s over­all moral, if one can be drawn: “I’ve got a feel­ing / this won’t ever change. / We’re gonna keep on get­ting older, / it’s gonna keep on feel­ing strange.”

Jack­lin’s in­ter­est in time and the end of her youth de­pend­ably seeps through other songs on the al­bum. On “Small Talk,” she as­sumes a ca­sual tone for verses both play­ful and tragic in the span of a sin­gle sen­tence.

It starts: “Zach Braff you look just like my dad / back when I thought I had the best one. / Oh what a life it could have been: / me in the cra­dle, you on the screen.”

But, she re­al­izes, that hy­po­thet­i­cal is not based on a lin­ear re­al­ity. Zach Braff is too young to be her fa­ther, or so she says (Braff is 41 and she’s 25; while prob­a­bly not bi­o­log­i­cally ac­cu­rate, it’s still poignant). “Don’t Let the Kids Win” brims with pithy rev­e­la­tions — some more se­ri­ous than oth­ers. On “Pool Party,” the lead song on the al­bum, she pleads with an im­ma­ture lover to follow on her growth spurt, seem­ingly to no avail.

“Oh I wanna give you all of my love, / but I watched you sink as they swam above. / You are the land and I am the dove. / My heart is heavy when you’re high, / So for me why won’t you try?”

“Don’t Let the Kids Win” is an easy al­bum to lis­ten to both be­cause the con­cept is straight­for­ward and be­cause Jack­lin’s writ­ing comes across so airy, so filled with light. She’s angsty but ap­par­ently not so bogged down by de­pres­sion, as many singer­song­writ­ers of past and con­tem­po­rary eras are.

There’s hope there, real hope, both within the al­bum and out­side of it. Here Jack­lin emerges as a new­comer with high-ceil­ing po­ten­tial like few demon­strate on a de­but, and in the com­ing years, we’ll see how high that ceil­ing re­ally is.

Screen­shot from Jack­lin’s YouTube for her song “Pool Party.”

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