Country-rock singer Jade Jackson ripples with potential despite her tired tropes | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Country-rock singer Jade Jackson ripples with potential despite her tired tropes 

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click to enlarge Jade Jackson

Jade Jackson

Courtesy the Artist

Jade Jackson reveals her relative inexperience in songwriting when she opens her debut album, Gilded (Anti), with the couplet, “I grew up my father’s daughter / He said, ‘Don’t take no shit from no one.” The 25-year-old artist may well be relaying a genuine experience for all I know, but those banal lines set the tone for an album by someone who admires country music but isn’t yet able to add anything to the tradition. Though she has a powerful voice, she too often overuses mannerisms such as a catch in her throat or a melodramatic swoop into her upper register, and on tunes such as “Salt to Sugar” her admiration for Lucinda Williams becomes a straitjacket. Gilded was produced by Social Distortion’s Mike Ness, who pushes Jackson’s scrappy band away from Nashville gloss toward a lean country-punk sound that’s occasionally embroidered by ringers such as Nickel Creek fiddler Sara Watkins and pedal steel virtuoso Greg Leisz. Jackson’s songs revolve around garden-variety heartbreak, infidelity, and regret, and sometimes they spill into cliche: “Troubled End” describes how a yearning for momentary excitement ends badly, and “Motorcycle” celebrates a solitary sense of discovery on the open road. Despite these flaws, there’s something riveting about Jackson’s raw talent; if she can excise the tired country tropes and lose the self-consciousness she could give some of her outlaw idols a run for their money. My fingers are crossed.   v

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