Silver linings



Originally from Gore, Americana muso Jackie Bristow is no stranger to life on the road, having forged her musical career in the pubs of Sydney before making a home in the United States.

From a young age, Bristow has been influenced by American music.

“I started out singing country music when I was young, and I sing all these songs that were written by Willie Nelson or Dolly Parton, American songwriters.







“And then so I moved to America and sort of so soaked it up.”

Two years ago, at the start of the pandemic, Bristow had travelled back to New Zealand from Nashville with intentions to tour her home country but instead became stranded here.

Now living in Queenstown, Bristow is releasing her fifth album — Outsider — and was due to perform her new music alongside some of her earlier repertoire at Kinross tomorrow.

However, on Wednesday the decision was taken to postpone the concert.

Despite living overseas for more than 15 years, Bristow says she’s never lost her Kiwi accent.

“It is actually a really nice thing to be a little bit different.”

That sentiment feeds into the notions behind Outsider, which tells the stories of Bristow’s move from small-town NZ to the bright lights of Sydney and America.

“You’ve always got to make new friends and break into the scene and all that … you are a foreigner.”

Though she had started the album back in the States, she was able to finish it from Auckland, which she says was a godsend during the pandemic.

“Through the pandemic, a lot of musicians were not on the road so there were people that ended up singing and playing on this record from their home studios all around the world.”

Those people included one of Bristow’s favourite bands, Darling West, from Norway, and American Blues singer Bonnie Raitt’s drummer, Ricky Fataar.

“I think it was a really nice way for me to stay happy … everything sort of just came to a roaring halt.

“All the tours — in America, and I was supposed to go back to Europe as well — they all got cancelled, everything got cancelled.’’

Bristow’s certainly made a name for herself abroad — one significant publication, American Songwriter, said she was “crafting some of the most beautiful, compelling
Americana today”.

One of her earlier songs, Thirsty, recently featured on CBS’ TV show Young Sheldon and HBO’s Euphoria.

While she’s been living in and around Queenstown, Bristow’s developed a songwriting programme called Song Capture in conjunction with Turn Up The Music Trust and Youthtown.

She’s been mentoring six young songwriters and has helped them professionally record a five-song EP released by American kids’ record label, Eight Pound Gorilla.

“It’s a silver lining that came out of the pandemic, and being here and working with the girls and inspiring them and just how excited they get, it’s been fun.”

Bristow will be touring Outsider around NZ in the coming months and plans to return to the States later this year.