Crushing is not named ironically. In fact, virtually everything about Julia Jacklin’s second full length is as it first appears. After suffering a recent breakup, the Australian singer-songwriter has written a body of songs that express the pendulous swings brought about by that major life event, from elated liberty to shattered insecurity. Its directness is its strength – Jacklin has a facility for writing in plain truths that find the universal in the specific, doing the hard work so the listener doesn’t have to.

The scene is set by opener ‘Body’, in which she sings with a matter-of-fact humour of the breaking point. She tells the tale of being met by police as her plane lands, her former partner having been caught lighting up in the restroom mid-flight: “Right there on the tarmac/ I threw my luggage down/ I said, ‘I’m going to leave you/ I’m not a good person when you’re around.’” As she drives away, alone in the car with just a driver as company, she describes her world filling with colour and sound, “all of my senses rushing back to me”; but immediately, the flood of empowerment is tempered, as she remembers an intimate photo that her partner may still possess: “would you use it to hurt me?”

It is the album in a nutshell, the headlong collision of antithetical emotional experiences, a scenario most listeners will recognise all too well. ‘Don’t Know How to Keep Loving You’ does what all the guide books recommend we never do, but which is sometimes the only thing that helps: wallow. Over crying guitar and a maudlin pacing, Jacklin gives air to the weakness of not wanting to move on just yet. It is a bracingly honest and strangely cathartic listen. Similarly, ‘Pressure to Party’ throws a spotlight on the awkward attempts to re-integrate into your social world after the change; Jacklin repeats “I’ll try to love again soon” as the song plays out, as if singing it enough times will eventually convince her that it’s true.

But there is tremendous positivity to be found on Crushing too. Album highlight ‘Head Alone’ is a stonking declaration of independence that draws strength from one of the issues of our time: “I don’t wanna be touched all the time/ I raised my body up to be mine.” Jacklin continues by asserting that, “I’ll say it til he understands/ You can love somebody without using your hands.” The specifics are clear, but nevertheless her confidence fizzes out of every moment of the track, a three-minute unadorned celebration of self, the generator that powers the rest of the album, light or dark.

The album’s great heart-stopping secret is concealed until near the end. ‘Turn Me Down’ is for its first half a sobering chapter in the story, unclear in its place in the timeline, but wrenching in its longing for resolution. But then, the moment: the track falls near silent for some ten seconds, just ambient feedback in the air, before Jacklin re-emerges: “So please just turn me down.” Print cannot convey, but in each of those six words, her voice slides through several notes and memories, skidding out of control at times, Jacklin teetering on the edge of losing composure, every ounce of the confusion and heartbreak and empowerment that preceded it bursting out of her at once. It is a stop-in-your-tracks moment on a record brimming with intimate truths. Many a songwriter has tortured themselves to twist and turn these experiences into new metaphorical shapes, but Jacklin has resisted. By laying out her honest realities in plain sight, she has not only allowed herself to heal, but she has offered a healing process to others.