Julia Jacklin’s second album is stripped back, intimate, and straightforward.

Julia Jacklin’s second album is stripped back, intimate, and straightforward. The Melbourne songwriter’s voice doesn’t hide behind complex instrumentation or overproduction, while her lyrics tell a powerful story about the breakdown of her relationship, and everything that came next. “It’s nice that people who have been through these things or who need these songs will find them, and that’s fine,” Jacklin tells Apple Music. “But some people will be like, ‘This isn’t for me, I haven’t experienced that,’ or ‘She’s being too whiny, get over yourself.’ And that’s fine, too.” Here, Jacklin talks through the stories behind each track on Crushing.

“I like the first single to be the first song on the record because that’s the way I intended people to listen to it from the start. I think I was trying to set the tone and to separate the people who really want to listen to the whole record and maybe people who don’t.”

“Head Alone”
“I’ve had many different interactions in my life that I couldn’t raise at the time—and still haven’t. That’s what’s great about songwriting, you can say things that you’ve been wanting to say, have the comebacks that you wish you’d had at the time. Where the opening track is more about my resignation to the way the world is and the different ways in which women are shamed and treated, this was written in a moment of confidence and hope, where I don’t fear retribution for speaking out, and I don’t care.”

“Pressure to Party”
“It’s a reaction to my feeble post-breakup attempts to try and act like everything is normal—where you force yourself into social situations because you’re trying to get back out there and feel good, but sometimes you just feel like shit. It’s such a shock, I think, the end of a relationship, even if you wanted to get out of it.”

“Don’t Know How to Keep Loving You”
“Sometimes my motivation is to try and write songs that I need to hear at the time. There’s not heaps of songs that you can look to that talk about the sadness of falling out of love and just the sadness of things just fizzling out, for no particularly dramatic or exciting reasons. Most heartbreak songs are about being wronged, or they’re more dramatic, but a lot of the time it’s not that dramatic, it’s just very sad.”

“When the Family Flies In”
“It was just one of those studio days where the guitar just wasn’t working. It just so happened that the intern, Dom, could play piano. It was really special to me—I’ve never used piano because I don’t play it, I don’t really understand it. It was nice to just be able to sing that song and not worry about playing guitar, because it’s a hard one to sing, and a strange emotion to portray.”

“I used to go over my lyrics and edit them over and over again, but with this album, I let a lot of those initial observations stay. I used to think that good writing is complicated—very poetic, metaphorical, and difficult to understand—and I remember thinking, ‘I don’t know if I should put this on the record, it’s too straightforward.’ But then I was like, ‘Well, that’s ridiculous.’”

“Good Guy”
“I thought about whether I should put this on the record because I thought it was a little submissive and simple, but I grew to love that about it. A lot of the record is talking about the power you feel after a relationship ends and how it’s great to be alone. But there are times when, even though you were so suffocated and you wanted to be alone and couldn’t wait until you had your own space, you have nights where you’re like, ‘Oh my god, I want to be desired, I want to be loved by someone even if it’s not even real, I need to be lied to for a moment.’ And it’s important to be kind to yourself after a situation like that.”

“You Were Right”
“I think a huge part of growing up is trying to figure out who you are and what you actually like as opposed to what people want you to like. People come in and out of your life and influence you in different ways, and I think that song’s me pushing against my inclination to be a people-pleaser.”

“Turn Me Down”
“We recorded it four times. I still don’t really know if we got it right—it’s just such an odd piece of work, and it’s probably the most vulnerable I ever felt as a singer. You’re in this vocal booth and everyone’s sitting there listening to you express something pretty huge, and pretty unadorned by musical backing. I had to sing that bridge so many times that by the end, I was just sobbing. It’s been really wonderful to play live, actually; that was a bit of a surprise.”

“I never really intended this to be on the album, because I wrote it for myself and a few friends. My favorite time for songwriting is when you just write a song with the sole purpose of sending it to a friend who needs it. It’s a pretty personal song for me and a couple friends who were going through a similar thing. I put it at the end because, even though it’s very sad, I think it showed a lot of growth for me as a person. You can’t have everything in these situations. If you don’t want to be with someone, you’ve got to be mature enough to respect that they need to move on and you’ve got to move on.”