What they say about Jade Jackson, and what’s borne out by her debut album Gilded, is that she’s old beyond her years. And what that means is that Jade Jackson can convey years of hard living that she hasn’t had time to accrue with a voice shot through with more bad luck and tough experiences than you’d hope she’s had time to go through. Gilded is a document of facing all of life’s efforts to trip you up with a steely determination to carry on – Jade Jackson’s one of the tough women of song who carry on regardless of what the world throws their way. The music is a blend of the countrified (such as the drenched in weeping fiddle tune No Guarantees and the title track), the melodically roots-rocking (such as Better Off and Motorcycle) and the bluesey (Good Time Gone).
The opening track, Aden, pretty much sets the scene for the album from the first lines as Jade Jackson sings “I grew up my father’s daughter / he said don’t take no shit from no-one / you’ll never see me cry / ’til now I’ve had no reason why”. Under this tough exterior though there’s a bruised heart “Oh, can’t you see you are tearing me apart ? / Don’t you know you are breaking my heart ?”. It’s a great song which slides along easily, partly due to Jade Jackson’s phrasing being really reminiscent of Slaid Cleaves. Motorcycle has Jackson hitting the road – leaving the boy behind this time “I want to ride and see what’s on the other side of the setting sun / Ah please don’t cry boy it’s been fun / But my motorcycle only seats one”. She breathlessly explains how love just isn’t enough to curb her restless spirit – there’s some great edgy guitar across the track conjuring up some wide open American highway, baked with heat and covered in dust. Good Time Gone is almost the same song in reverse as Jackson is on the end of a similar kiss-off from a Bad Boy who’d swept her off her feet “met him at the back of a bar on Saturday / I said “I don’t drink” he bought me one anyway”. Things move fast and before he disappeared out of site Jade had already dropped the “I love you” even though she knew it’d never last and “we’d never have a first fight / never have a song”.
As an album Gilded is a lot of fun, and a great leather clad swaggering debut. Jade Jackson has an incredibly strong voice with the right amount of whisky weathering – if you’ve ever wondered what a collision of Joan Jett and the younger, rockier, side of Steve Earle would sound like then Gilded answers your question pretty well.