Although singer-songwriter Jill Jackson first came to pop prominence fronting Glasgow band Speedway – who scored a Top Ten hit with their debut single, Genie in a Bottle, in 2003 – she’s always been a country girl at heart. Raised on the blessed trinity of Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Patsy Cline, she taught herself guitar by watching Chet Atkins footage (beats learning a few Oasis chords) and joined a country band when she was in her teens.
After Speedway were picked up and let go by a major label in short order, drummer Jim Duguid went on to co-write and play with a certain Paisley teenager called Paolo Nutini, while Jackson steadily built a solo career combining pop smarts with a love of roots music. She lived and learned in Nashville for a time but since returning to Scotland has immersed herself in the UK’s grassroots Americana scene, forging Celtic connections with the likes of singer Eddi Reader, veteran troubadour Rab Noakes and fiddler John McCusker.
McCusker is one of the musical guests on her latest album, Yours Aye, which was written and recorded during lockdown, produced by Boo Hewerdine and self-released in May, debuting high in the UK Americana charts but also placing Jackson as the only unsigned artist in the Top 40.
“I felt very exposed when Yours Aye was released as it is hugely personal,” says Jackson, “but I also love having that fear, wondering what people are going to think of a piece of work you’ve created. There are many influences musically - Alison Krauss, Brandi Carlile, Patty Griffin, Dan Auerbach, even a bit of Beyoncé!”
Yours Aye features meditations on motherhood and a song inspired by her grandfather’s service during World War II, but Jackson has chosen album track All I’ve Ever Known for her Scotsman Sessions performance, which she filmed in her kitchen. “You can’t see it but I was actually surrounded by Lego and wooden food! I chose this song because it works well acoustically but also because it reminds me of an amazing trip to New York, the last trip my partner and I had before we became parents.
“The past couple of years have been different but still productive for me,” she continues. “Since the album came out I have been so busy which is amazing. I’m loving how happy people look to be sitting watching live music again. I am loving being on stage more now than ever.”
There will be plenty more of that in the coming months as Jackson resumes her support slot on Eddi Reader’s tour in September, before playing the opening concert of the fabulous boutique Glasgow Americana festival – a Songwriters in the Round performance with her pals and peers Hewerdine and Martha L Healy – and then heading out on her own autumn tour, from Kyle of Lochalsh to Howwood and beyond. “Then I suppose I’ll get the next album ready,” she reckons.
Jill Jackson plays Websters Theatre, Glasgow, on 5 October as part of the Glasgow Americana Festival. Yours Aye is out now and available from https://jilljacksonofficial.bandcamp.com/album/yours-aye