by Emma Turney
Jade Bird is an anomaly. A folk, Americana singer but British. A tiny and unassuming young woman at first look, but powerful and demanding behind a microphone. On her debut self-titled record, Bird allows her raw voice to drive the album, showing that Brits can do Americana too. Jade Bird showcases the singer’s undeniable talent; however, some tracks fail to realize Bird’s full potential.
Jade Bird has been criminally flying under the radar for years now, even with her brilliant EP, Something American. But it seems people are finally beginning to pay attention. After placing on New York Times’ Artists to Watch of 2019 list and a recent performance on The Tonight Show, expectations were starting to build up. More often than not Bird lives up to the slight hype surrounding her.
Previously released single “I Get No Joy” is Jade Bird in her comfort zone, in the best way possible falling in an unexpected genre of folk rap. Explosive choruses, angry guitar strumming, and teeth gritting vocals encompass the best parts of this record including “No Joy,” “Lottery,” and “Uh Huh.” Standout track, “Uh Huh” goes one step further, showing off the potential in Bird’s songwriting abilities. The sassy track finds Bird warning a former lover of his new partner with witty one liners like “she’s got you on your knees like a little boy, everybody sees that you’re just a little toy.”
When Bird strays too far from this formula it seems she never reaches the potential she clearly has. “My Motto” promises a larger than life ending but cuts short before we ever experience that, with vaguely uplifting lyrics that are cheesy at best. Similar moments happen on “Good At It” which would be great background music to a long car ride or studying in a coffee shop but not at sold out stadium shows.
The brilliant, Fleetwood Mac inspired, “Side Effects,” gives hope for the evolution of Jade Bird’s career. Bird trades the angry, powerful voice for smooth, silky vocals, with just a dash of grit. The track truly creeps up on you in an astonishing way. By the end it feels as if you’ve heard it a million times, not because it’s predictable but rather because it feels like an instant classic. “Instant classic” seems like the perfect way to describe Bird—a voice you’ve always heard in your head singing songs you seem to have been waiting for forever.