Though this is only her debut full length, for those hip to current music trends and artists, Jade Bird has steadily been gaining buzz throughout the past 12+ months, with millions of Spotify streams (“What I Am Here For,” from her 2017 EP Something American, has almost 13 million views as of this writing) and featured spots on late night television. Thankfully, at a time when singles and streaming services rule the music industry, it’s refreshing and relieving that young artists such as Bird (Maggie Rogers is another prime example) have the ability to write not only good pop songs, but good pop albums.
Produced by Simon Felice (of the Felice Brothers) and David Baron with a variety of musicians, Bird’s self-titled debut (Glassnote Records) melds rootsy-rock with singer/songwriter pop.
The album ebbs and flows between bouncy, happy-go-lucky pop (see opener “Ruins” or single “Lottery”), uplifting ballads (see“My Motto,” which is also a single), to more up-tempo rockers such as “Uh Huh” and “Love Has All Been Done Before.” At the center of it all is Bird’s compelling and powerful voice. She’s able to venture from quick, spit-fire phrases, such as in the chorus of “I Get No Joy,” to more controlled bursts of both tenderness and force. The aforementioned “My Motto” also showcases this dynamic—the verses are relatively soft and mellow, but eventually give way to Bird’s powerful voice, eventually soaring into the last chorus (sorry, I can’t help the bird puns).
Thematically, Bird doesn’t seem to hide or promote any one subject. I’ve seen interviews that have described the album as being comprised of “screw you” songs. While the album has its share of these songs—see “Uh Huh” or “Good At It”—she’s also not afraid to expose her vulnerability (“Does Anybody Know”) and even contemplates this world when she’s gone on the album’s closer, “If I Die,” as she sings:
“If I die, don’t put me in stars
I’m never that far away from you
Put me in words, not hallelujahs
They come from the heart and they’ll ring true”
It’s definitely heavy subject matter, especially for someone that’s barely 21 years old. Regardless of her age, it’s apparent that she’s been at her craft for years now, and her genuineness purrs and screams out through the speakers. On the whole, this may be the best “Americana” debut of the year, and may be one of the best debut albums of 2019, period. Pick up her album and check out her tour dates here.