In a recent article for The Bluegrass Situation, Jade Jackson spoke about the central theme of her new album: ‘Loneliness is something I’ve experienced as long as I can remember…I naturally gravitated toward music that evoked that feeling and when I started writing and creating art, it was my biggest inspiration.’ Wilderness take us to some lonely places, exploring her inner turmoil and channeling her influences to create an emotionally cathartic collection of songs.
Working again with Mike Ness of Social Distortion on production duties, Jade continues the vein of excellent songwriting she began with her debut album Gilded. Working outside of Nashville trends and mixing a rockier edge to her sound makes her music stand out in the Americana genre.
Bottle It Up finds a cure for loneliness in memory and alcohol, a nice little kicker which really sets the tone for the rest of the album. City Lights is a straight rhythmic rocker, and sounds fantastic. Don’t Say That You Don’t Love Me was a song gifted to Jade by Mike himself. It’s one of the catchiest songs on the album, a love song full of confusion and contradiction. Old country and old punk music influences combine perfectly on this one.
Lyrically this album delves deep and the honesty of Multiple Choice shows she’s developing as a songwriter herself. Nothing lasts forever/ it doesn’t matter how well it’s made. She’s searching again for difficult answers about life and love, with an inherent sense of restlessness in the songs. On Tonight her voice is raw with honest emotion, and the frustration of her feelings is nicely echoed by the fiddle too.
The second half of the record begins with Dust, a quieter moment of contemplation about a woman trapped in an unfulfilling life. It’s a touching moment of empathy and understanding. Long Way Home tells the story of how the narrator has to fight hard to stay independent and true to herself. Sometimes you can’t help give into the temptation of your past.
Loneliness asks the question: how come loneliness is something we don’t talk about? Music might be the only place where some of us ever tell or hear the truth about our real feelings. Title track Wilderness directs her thoughts towards someone struggling. Maybe she can’t face dealing with their pain anymore but she wishes they will find their own way through to the light.
By the end of the album closing song Secret has her longing for a way out of her small town, a way to realise her dreams and escape her fate. I don’t want my bones to be buried in this town. Her secret pain and suffering is laid bare in the song – inspired by a dark moment in her own life where she became addicted to painkillers.
Wilderness has a real melodic heart to it too, alongside the grit and sadness in some of these songs. Jade Jackson understands what it’s like to be alone, but she never lets loneliness defeat her. She wants to talk, to sing these emotions and free herself from their grip. Listen through the darkness to the other side.