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Jackson+Sellers – ‘Breaking Point’ album review

The singer-songwriters have teamed up to create their debut album.

Singer-songwriters Jade Jackson and Aubrie Sellers first crossed paths during Americanafest in Nashville in 2019. As their friendship rapidly developed, so too did the idea of recording together. Now, as Jackson+Sellers, they’re releasing their debut album, ‘Breaking Point’.

The 10-track project kicks off with ‘The Devil Is An Angel’, one of three covers on the record and originally recorded by Julie Miller. An intro of drumsticks and sharp, edgy guitars contrasts the sweet harmonies of the duo as they sing about a potentially deceptive new love interest. With its classic rock and roll sound that put me in mind of the likes of Joan Jett and a high-energy, pulsing rhythm, it’s a great way to kick off the set and the a capella finish really serves to highlight Jackson and Sellers’ vocal talents.

That rock and roll influence dominates the record, particularly on early numbers such as the weighty title track with its open lyrics – ‘I can be a little much’, the band confess – psychedelic touches and stomping chorus, or The World Is Black which pairs a thumping rhythm with images of people staring at their phones on subway trains in rainy cities and a strong 90s influence, particularly in its crashing outro. Elsewhere, As You Run’s sparse arrangement, wistful lyrics and soaring, ethereal vocals evoke 60s California vibes, while Waste Your Time begins with a hazy intro before throwing in a twist in the rocky, questioning chorus, alongside verses packed with details and slide guitar effects. There’s a barely suppressed anger at the ex-partner the pair sing about, but their subdued delivery – both here and elsewhere – only adds to the mix of fury and regret that makes the song even more powerful.

However, in the second half of the album Jackson and Sellers show off the wider range of their musical styles and influences. Fair Weather blends a brighter feel and romantic lyrics before taking a darker turn in the bridge to describe a fickle lover, but the duo’s effortless, gentle delivery keeps the song on the right keel between knowingness and futile hope. The short, punchy Wound Up draws on country twang and a rattling melody, fading out before bursting back into life with a reprise of the chorus. By contrast, The Wild One sees Jackson and Sellers in a sultry, bluesy mood as they sing frankly about their flaws and determination not to let anyone drag them down. It absolutely drips with confidence and defiance and shows off a playfulness that I’d like to see more than glimpses of on future projects.

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For me the standout track by far on the record is Hush. It’s completely different from anything else on there, with a downbeat, atmospheric start and images of sinking ships and birds reluctant to flee the nest. Jackson and Sellers’ vocals are soft and encouraging to the song’s subject, and there’s a haunting, tragic sense about the whole thing. This is definitely a song that will stick with you and really shows off the pair’s ability to produce an emotional, heartstring-tugging song as well as their songwriting talents.

The album closes with another cover version, Has Been. It feels like coming full circle from the start of the record, with its uptempo sound, fuzzy guitars and tongue-in-cheek, kiss-off message offset by delicate harmonies. There’s a sense of fun and cheekiness, as well as a willingness for the pair to push themselves by going for bigger notes. The long driving outro, with vocals drifting in and out as the layers of melody are built up before exploding into a wicked guitar riff and then fading away, leaves you wanting more and feels like a great, fizzing note of energy to finish on.

Overall ‘Breaking Point’ is a strong debut for Jackson+Sellers, with plenty of energy and a sound that could slot right in alongside other female rock acts, drawing on decades of influences whilst remaining fresh and modern. Yet what brings the whole thing together is how brilliantly Jackson and Sellers’ vocals match up – their harmonies sound like they’ve been performing alongside each other for decades, rather than mere months, and their skill as songwriters both together and apart shines through consistently. They’ve delivered an exciting start to their career as a duo and I’m really interested to see where they go from here, both as a band and solo artists.

Track listing: 1. The Devil Is An Angel 2. Breaking Point 3. As You Run 4. The World Is Black 5. Waste Your Time 6. Hush 7. Fair Weather 8. Wound Up 9. The Wild One 10. Has Been Record label: ANTI- Release date: 22nd October 2021

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