Country Music Week has been in full swing all week with packed out audiences every single night across London. The bill for every show has been packed with UK and US talent and for a good portion of the performers, it’s the first time they’ve performed in the UK. As with C2C: Country to Country, Country Music Week has proven to be a great place to discover new talent and one of my favourite discoveries of the week is rising US singer-songwriter Jillian Jacqueline, who has been on my radar for quite a while now.
On Friday night Jacqueline opened for Kip Moore at his sold-out O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire show with Drake White, and yesterday she performed during the Saturday Daytime Hub at The Borderline as well as in the evening supporting Drake White & The Big Fire. After interviewing her earlier in the day, I caught Jacqueline performing in the evening and my gut instincts about her proved to be spot on – she’s one of the brightest new stars in Country music.
Opening her set with Holier Than Thou, a biting song that takes someone to task for their attitude, Jacqueline started strong. She won over the pretty noisy audience quickly and by the end of the song she had their undivided attention. The set list was primarily made up of songs from her recently released Side A EP, which allowed Jacqueline to show the many facets of her remarkable talent. Sugar and Salt showcased Jacqueline’s knack for telling a truly human and relatable story. She told the crowd it was inspired by her parents and her honest lyrics rang loud and clear as she delivered a flawless and passionate vocal.
During the set Jacqueline included two songs that aren’t included on Side A; Prime and Shady. Prime embraces fumbling your way through life as you find your feet and discover who you are while Shady is a feistier moment that allowed Jacqueline to show her cheekier side.
Before Hate Me, Jacqueline apologised to anyone in the audience who related to its lyrics. A gorgeous ballad, Hate Me sees Jacqueline trying to make it easier for someone breaking up with her. It’s one of her rawest songs and one of the many examples of her boldness as a lyricist. I warned her earlier in the day that the song would likely reduce me to a crumbling mess and I have to admit, I did wipe a tear from my eye, especially when she unleashed the power of her vocals during the last part of the song.
With all that’s going on in the world at the moment, God Bless This Mess felt truly poignant. The song’s message about strength over adversity while maintaining optimism for the future deeply resonated and I definitely saw a lot of emotion in the sold-out audience around me.
Jacqueline brought her set to a close with Reasons, her current single. The song has all of the makings of a monster hit and it’s one of Jacqueline’s bravest. Lyrically the song paints a true picture of a relationship that’s run its course but neither person wants to be the one to end it. It’s so refreshing to hear such honesty and a different perspective of a situation many of us have been able to relate to at one time or another. It was the perfect end to a stunning set.
I’d been looking forward to seeing Jillian Jacqueline all week and she certainly didn’t disappoint. She has a gorgeous and powerful voice, her lyrics are startlingly honest and real, and she has a warm personality that makes you wish you could share a bottle of wine with her and put the world to rights. If she’s not one of the biggest new Country stars within the next year, there truly is no justice. Jillian Jacqueline has everything it takes to be a true breakout success and she possesses a rare talent that few others have. I’m truly glad to say that I got the chance to witness her during her first trip to the UK, before she becomes a huge star.
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Set list: 1. Holier Than Thou 2. Prime 3. Sugar and Salt 4. Shady 5. Hate Me 6. Bleachers 7. God Bless This Mess 8. Reasons Performance date: 7th October 2017