Country-folk singer Jade Jackson‘s musical origin story begins at age thirteen, when she first picked up a guitar. Growing up in a household that had neither television nor computers, Jackson sought entertainment in the form of her father’s record collection. Here, Jackson found inspiration in the likes of Johnny Cash, George Jones, and Hank Williams. Shortly after starting to write her own songs, which now tally over 300, Jackson began playing live at fourteen. By the time Jackson enrolled at the CalArts, her tastes expanded to include Tom Waits and Social Distortion. These diverse influences manifest throughout Jackson‘s full-length debut, ‘Gilded’.
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Gentle, bucolic guitars confront dusty, Western blues between ‘Finish Line’ and ‘Troubled End’. ‘Goodtime Gone’ plays like dark surf rock, its throbbing basslines and searing guitar solo feeling closer to garage rock than folk. The album concludes with ‘Better Off’, which sees Jackson delivering a rural approach to pop punk. At her core, Jade Jackson marries Hank Williams with Lucinda Williams’s ‘Car Wheels On A Gravel Road’. In fact, Social Distortion‘s Mike Ness insisted Jackson listen only to that record for three months. “That was the template of the album he wanted to create with me,” shares Jackson, who then picked songs that had a similar feel.
Lyrically, ‘Gilded’ presents both Jackson‘s longing and blunt self-determination. Beginning with “Aden’, Jackson sings, “I grew up my father’s daughter / He said don’t take no shit from no one”. Following the hook-laden opener, Jackson dials back the intensity on ‘Back When’. On this track, Jackson rasps, “I wanna meet you at the school after dark / Let you push me on the swing / Back when I thought you’d be the one to save up and buy me a ring“. Following this, ‘Bridges’ sees Jackson tenderly share, “I’d shoot out the sun / If I had someone to walk in the dark with“. Beyond this vulnerability, Jackson affirms her resolve on ‘Motorcycle’, where she matter-of-factly sings, “Please don’t cry / Boy, it’s been fun / But my motorcycle only seats one“.
Succinctly, ‘Gilded’ is a solid initial effort from Jade Jackson, leaving one impatient to hear more. A mildly lackluster final third hinders the record’s overall success, but the opening four tracks demonstrate Jackson‘s potential to can string together consistently satisfying numbers. Ultimately, Jackson, who will be opening for Social Distortion this summer, does not quite manage to produce a breath-taking debut, but still intrigues with her brand of multifacted gothic folk.
‘Gilded’ is out May 19th via ANTI-.