Don’t Let the Kids Win is the debut of Australian singer/songwriter Julia Jacklin, who skillfully laces elements of alternative country-rock and early rock into haunting indie folk vignettes. Smoky vocals, discontent, and a presence that's mature beyond her twenty-something years suffuse the album with the character of a life hard-lived. That spirit is almost literal on the song "Same Airport, Different Man," a weary, single-verse rumination that ends with her deciding to try the train next time. It closes with a mumble and a quiet, dissolving guitar line, as if falling asleep over a whiskey. At the other end of the instrument range is the lush "Coming of Age," which uses echoing guitars, crashing cymbals, and a melody that yodels to express "I didn't see it coming, my coming of age." More sauntering tracks like "Leadlight" and "Small Talk" take on a light '50s nostalgia with triplet rhythms, rhythm guitar, and a country connection. The latter tune has her feeling the wrong age for anything, whether it be the cool kid at the bar, or imagining Zach Braff and Catherine Deneuve as her parents. In keeping with the album's self-consciousness about growing older and finding one's place, the title track closes Don’t Let the Kids Win with lyrics like "I've got a feeling that this won't ever change/We're gonna keep on getting older, it's gonna keep on feeling strange." Altogether, the album's palette and Jacklin's cracking, pensive delivery land her in a sphere with heavy-hitters such as Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen, with a touch of Lucinda Williams, making it a must for fans of thoughtful indie folk.
AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson