Last week, Gracie Jean released her debut alt-country album Romance Is Bad, a veritable rollercoaster of emotion making waves with its emotional vulnerability and illustration of the artist's embedded skill for song writing.
An East Coast native along the glimmering azure waters of New South Wales, Australia, Jean’s love for the arts and the beauty of nature has complimented an innate musical talent, one that she has channelled with aplomb. Her songs have been written on Worimi Country in her hometown of Port-Stephens, and weave the story of angst and heartbreak, with poignancy the epicentre of the narrative arc.
The lilting expression and vulnerability is truly marvellous to behold. Jean’s struggles are expertly woven throughout, and her storytelling prowess is of an overt nature that dares you to defy her first-rate ability as an alt-country artist. Comparisons to Taylor Swift, Kacey Musgraves, Isobel Knight, and Holli Col demonstrate Jean’s capabilities as a major new player in the trade and magnify the talent that is slowly oozing its way toward the ears of more and more listeners.
She said, “I really wanted to convey the idea that it’s okay to feel sad, and to voice that sadness. I think often people tend to try and avoid all sad feelings. We put on masks and we ‘switch off’ the sadness when we interact with one another.”
Clinical depression, relationship breakdowns and Jean’s mothers’ journey of chronic heart failure are all salient aspects of her journey, and since melded with a musical aptitude to create a poignantly beautiful piece of art.
One of the album's most striking features, and there are plenty, is the candour and eloquent craft of the narrative. Jean is clearly a born storyteller, and the way she captures your interest with her tales is masterful for an artist so soon to enter the fray. I Don’t Want To Sing The Blues Anymore and Forgettable are two personal favourites, evoking a sense of sadness that we all often yearn for when listening to music, something to usher a cascading outpour of emotion for us all to resonate with.
The titular number, Romance Is Bad, is heart wrenching and beautiful, and a perfect embodiment of Jean’s album. Honestly, some artists spend their entire careers striving to unearth such personal emotion to convey through their music. It’s taken Jean one album to accomplish. There is a melancholy stream of consciousness that is prevalent across the nine-track record, like a river amid a storm, intense, unflinching, honest.
But just like agitated waters, Jean’s musicality maintains beauty, offering continuity; the unyielding truth of her narrative is at times sorely evocative, but it is indeed the beauty, the honesty, that is most affecting.
“Sometimes life is just hard, and you must make a choice, sink or swim. So far, I’ve chosen to swim every single time. My songs are inspired by all the people I know who must carry so much on their shoulders every day, and who aren’t afraid to be vulnerable, and to share their struggles with people who love them.
“I would love to see a world where in our communities or families we carry one another’s burdens and aren’t afraid to be vulnerable and ask for help.”
I haven’t heard Gracie Jean in live action, but as I sit and mull over the serenity and sweetness emanating from within, I am left with little doubt in my mind that she is one to keep an eye on, a crystal glimmering with vitality. Comprehensively, Jean’s elegantly tuneful vocals cut meandering paths through deft instrumentals; soft and subtle, like a hot knife through butter.
The raw emotion of her adolescence and personal strife is captured with such pinpoint sincerity that it is near impossible not to sway to the gentle winds that follow her voice, calm and deft, but bringing a blue chill, nonetheless.