(SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #405: Jade Bird

By on Thursday, 1st March 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Header photo by Francesca Allen

Editor Mary covered London-based singer/songwriter Jade Bird briefly last year leading into SXSW 2017 and Live at Leeds 2017, but we think she warrants a closer look ahead of SXSW 2018 this month. Bird’s early life and musical influences intertwine to create a unique and thoughtful sound, with country, rock, and jazz styles intermingling seamlessly in her songs. Her ‘Something American’ EP was released last summer via Glassnote Records.

The press release for Bird’s newly released cover of Alanis Morissette’s ‘Right Through You’ provides some enlightening context to what looks on the surface like a typical girl-with-guitar setup. “Born in Hexham, UK, Jade’s early life was spent mainly in flight as an ‘army brat.’ One of [her] life’s few constants proved to be the influence of strong working women. At first via her mother and grandmother, who largely raised her, but later the female role models within the musical subcultures Jade become obsessed with, from empowering country heroines like Loretta Lynn to iconic alternative songwriters like Patti Smith. Alanis Morissette‘s ‘Jagged Little Pill’ was a similar early touchstone.” With this in mind, ‘Right Through You’ seems to be a particularly apt choice. It fits nicely both in Bird’s voice and in her dryly ironic (yes, I went there), mildly rebellious style.

Bird’s current single ‘Lottery’ was released earlier this year, also on Glassnote. Its recorded version is upbeat and bright, with a jaunty guitar accompaniment and a distinct rock tone to its vocals. The lyrical conversation between Bird’s youthful protagonist and her lover is related in an offhand tone, but its between-the-lines subtext is much deeper: “I’ll tell you about a guy that I’ve been with / you ask how old is he and I laugh, twenty-six / nah, but he’s thirty / how messed up is that?”

The acoustic version of ‘Lottery’ is surprisingly different to the original recording. The musical accompaniment is shifted to solo piano, and its subtle jazz harmonies are a clever change from the song’s previous country-rock stylings. Bird’s voice is more exposed here, and a little shrill in moments, but it holds up remarkably well as the dynamic and dramatic intensity rises.

For those of you on the eastern side of the Atlantic, Jade Bird is currently in the midst of a UK headline tour which will run through the 11th of March. If you’re in the market for a last minute gig, tickets for the following shows are available now.

Thursday 1st March 2018 – Norwich Waterfront
Friday 2nd March 2018 – Nottingham Bodega Social Club
Sunday 4th March 2018 – Brighton Green Door Store
Monday 5th March 2018 – London Village Underground
Tuesday 6th March 2018 – Birmingham Hare & Hounds 2
Thursday 8th March 2018 – Glasgow Poetry Club
Friday 9th March 2018 – Newcastle Think Tank
Saturday 10th March 2018 – Salford Eagle Inn
Sunday 11th March 2018 – Leeds Oporto

Following these shows, Bird will hop a plane for America and SXSW. If you’re on this side of the pond and can’t make it to Austin, you can catch Jade Bird on her spring and summer North American tour dates with Colter Wall and First Aid Kit; a full listing of Bird’s upcoming live dates can be found on her official Web site.

Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2018 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and artists and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite artist is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the artist’s Facebook or official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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