The record label that brought us Girlpool and Jeff Tweedy has released Jade Jackson’s first full-length EP, Gilded. Mike Ness of the band Social Distortion saw Jade play at a coffeeshop and produced the album, helping highlight her command of the guitar with country and punk. It’s one of the most gut-wrenching albums I’ve listened to in a long time. Jackson’s smoky voice shares deeply personal lyrics about the traumas of the heart, with the deliciously dark tone of someone that’s been let down by love one too many times. She sounds a little like Jenny Lewis and Emmylou Harris, but the instrumentals are about as far from the typical country sound as Canada is from the Mason-Dixon line.
Actually, Jackson hails from Santa Margarita, California, which is near the Mojave Desert. Santa Margarita is a small town that deviates from the idea of California as a bastion of wealth and liberal pride. This non-southern take on country distinguishes Jade from the likes of well-known icons like Ashley Monroe and Pistol Annies, both of whom share a southern twang. Jackson’s sound is different. Supremely talented in the vocal department, she strives to convey the needs humans have that go beyond having someone to hold on to. Motorcycle is clearly the hit, the peace-out song that sounds so much like Hank Williams and Bruce Springsteen, Jackson’s self-proclaimed influences. It’s about wanderlust and the realization that life is about something greater. That love isn’t everything.
Oftentimes we feel bound to the societal notion that love is the endgame. But for those that decide they don’t want to build a house with someone anymore, Gilded validates that sentiment, proving that connection and rupture are universal experiences, and reminding us that, as one of life’s constants, solitude is something to embrace.