A Glorious, Musically Dynamic, Emotionally Charged and Energetically Hook-Soaked Magnum Opus
Drawn together initially briefly at Americanafest in 2019, Jade Jackson contacted Aubrie Sellers via DM on social media to add backing vocals on a track…and matters escalated from there into a full duo release. While there’s obviously clear elements of each writer on this album, “Breaking Point” turns out to have a strong collaborative identity of its own too – and that identity contains lots of emotional energy, loud, rasping glam-rock guitars and proud middle finger ballads that will destroy the unprepared radio listener. It’s raw – in an emotionally strong way.
Opener “The Devil is an Angel” is one of three covers on the album and tears out of the speakers with an Ethan Ballinger driven guitar sound that wouldn’t have been out of place on an early Nirvana single.
Here the vocals are complementary and unified in almost double-tracked form – this is a duo manifesto and it’s coming directly at you.
Title track “Breaking Point” follows and has an almost Glitter Band single remixed by a weird Syd Barrett cosmic stomp thing going on.
Earworm, earworm, earworm….
First big ballad is the heartbeat twang of “As You Run” – great production job by Aubrie Sellers and Ethan Ballinger, in creating a Daniel Lanois type soundscape – the minor shift in this song is a joy to hear too and takes it from very good to ….. spectacular.
Not a duff track so far and they aren’t letting up.
Ballinger’s guitar with its granular distortion and a distorted vocal, leads the listener into “The World is Black” and its howls of desperation at the darkness in which there’s some light to follow is a primeval cathartic release – I was air guitaring like a crazy person at the end too….
“Waste Your Time” takes the listener into Glam-Rock headbanging territory adain; imagine if The Sweet had been taken in a time machine from 1975 to the present day and given the keys to the fuzztone factory, then they may have come up with something like this – yowzah …. yowzah …. yowzah!
Next up is “Hush” the song that prompted Jackson to contact Sellers and led to the duo’s collaboration – it’s a song for Jackson’s younger sister Audrey (Bonus tip – Audrey J is a talented artist and has music to release soon too. There must be something in the Californian water and the Jackson gene pool) about escaping a toxic relationship.
Swooping and sweeping backing vocals frame a fragile and supportive central message of sisterly support.
“Fair Weather” stays in ballad mode and it’s a hook-laced reflection on the transient nature of relationships and the world-weary observation that some people only stick around when times are good. Whether it’s ultimately a positive or a negative thing – well, make your own mind up whether the good times can endure enough…. in these godforsaken times.
The tempo ups again with “Wound Up” which drives along with a Jeffrey Lee Pierce/Gun Club rockabilly/Blues ferocity – there are some great rhythmic and guitar stop-starts stabs in this too; which will make this a mosh-pit favourite – it’s RAWK-us! (Sorry…)
The album ends with two more covers – the penultimate track is Suzi Quatro’s “The Wild One” given a 21st century squelch/grunge make-over with Jackson and Sellers swapping verses and combining on what’s in effect a mini-manifesto from the album.
Last up it’s a cover of Shannon Wright’s “Has Been” – a chant-along Throwing Muses meets Neil Young and a train beat in a dark alley; statement of intent – the guitars play out and freak out – and the album’s all too soon over. But there’s always the repeat button of course!
Being a fan of both Aubrie Sellers and Jade Jackson, I was hugely looking forward to this release but somewhat cautious that it might not quite match my expectations.
I needn’t have worried – this is a glorious, musically dynamic, emotionally charged and energetically hook-soaked magnum opus and it’s just taken the lead in my personal album of the year list.
Review by Nick Barber
CD Released October 22nd
Vinyl Released January 28th 2022
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