It was a case of new hairstyle, new songs and a new (well first!) husband when rising star Jillian Jacqueline stepped on to the stage in NW London to open for Kip Moore on his current UK tour. For those who, like me, had caught either her stunning headline show or opening set for Kip when he was here just a few months back, it was just her hair that was totally new but it was great to hear some of the ( vaguely ) new songs again which she has been busy recording for her next album. “You are going to be guinea pigs” she said in regards to the as yet unreleased numbers, and It boded well that I remembered them pretty well having heard them just once before!
Her 30 minute set incorporated favourites from her previous releases too, of course…..’Holier The Thou’ , ‘Tragic’ (which she said was very personal to her but which has been a song that has connected particularly well with many of her fans) and set closer ‘God Bless This Mess’ all sounded lovely in stripped back format. She picked up her Gibson Hummingbird for few numbers but it was husband Bryan Brown who provided main accompaniment throughout on acoustic guitar, some beautiful playing despite having only flown in that morning. New material included one of her rare love songs, “Ocean”, dedicated to Bryan of course, which i recalled particularly well from her previous show with its moving analogy of how some love are waves but others are much bigger, deeper and more powerful like an ocean. “Compliment” was introduced as about the complexities of break ups … “I’ve experienced most of them” she said “…and was inspired by speaking to an ex, finding out they are actually doing fine when in fact you secretly want them to still miss you.” The final of her new writes was “When It Rains”, a nostalgic song about being reminded of someone in a certain situation.
Jillian is a different in many ways to the more traditional country artists I’m usually attracted to, but one of the reasons why hit home during this set. She told of how she grew up listening solely to country radio, not even knowing other music genres existed until she was around sixteen, worshipping the female artists of the day such as Trisha, Shania and Martina. So it seems that although she has developed her own style of writing she still draws inspiration from her idols, who seep into her music by osmosis to a greater or lesser extent. Paying homage to these ladies, she slipped in a very competent cover of Pam Tillis’ ‘Maybe It Was Memphis’ mid set.
While Jillian cuts a tiny, demure figure she really impresses vocally and with her stage presence. She knows instinctively when to let rip and when to pull back, I love the emotion in her voice (aided by a wonderful ‘break’) and she worked really hard at connecting with Kip’s fans who although generally respectful and appreciative of her music weren’t the most responsive to her banter between numbers.
Chatting to her afterwards she told me that her new album is still work in progress, something she wants to take her time over and get exactly right. And whenever that may be, she has a growing fanbase who will be ready to listen!
Review written by Lesley Hastings (twitter.com/lesleyhastings)