Jade Jackson is brave to open her second album, Wilderness, with a loping country-rocker called “Bottle It Up.” Although the song innocently wishes for a happiness that can be saved like a thirst-quenching beverage, where she can “drink a little down” whenever she needs some, the song comes on the heels of Jackson’s recent battle with painkiller dependence. Jackson clearly longs for a greater peace than any pill could ever provide, though. And thankfully, she hasn’t kept all her musical goodness bottled up inside because Wilderness is one refreshing drink.
As with her debut album, Wilderness was produced again by Mike Ness of Social Distortion. With Ness at the helm, this album has more of a Southern California Americana sound, than anything coming out of Nashville. Nevertheless, “Don’t Say That You Love Me” includes wonderful steel guitar in all the right places. Many of these tracks are built upon solid rock grooves, but songs like “Tonight” with its lovely fiddle, incorporate distinctly country elements.
The album’s title track is a bass-thumping rocker that offers real life encouragement. “I hope you find your way out of this mess,” Jackson sings during the chorus. She later adds, “Have no fear in your wilderness/Through the darkness to the other side.” It’s as though she’s recalling her own wilderness experience while singing it, in order to give another person timely hope. Jackson shows her vulnerable side with the tender “Shiver,” which describes a romance’s end as though it were a scene from an old western film. “Shoulda seen those buzzards flying,” she sings, regretfully, “Maybe then I’d know our love was dying.”
Whether she’s attempting to preserve good times in a bottle, or describing lost love in graveside terms, Jackson consistently captures the listener’s attention with her many-times world weary vocal style, which is not unlike Lucinda Williams. Like Williams, Jackson is also a strong songwriter. She’s the complete package, and Wilderness is one inspired collections of songs. Jade Jackson’s been through some darkness but come out the other side stronger than ever.