Jade Bird: Jade Bird review – edgy, unsparing Americana

(Glassnote Records)

Jade Bird talks a good fight: she writes her own songs; doesn’t want other people telling her how she feels; made her first recordings in the Catskills with Simone Felice. She’s got some people very excited – one US industry commentator reckoned last year: “If this were the late 80s, Jade Bird would already be a star.” That’s perhaps a decade out: her debut album is MOR-Americana-with-edges of the kind that Sheryl Crow and Meredith Brooks were having hits with in the 90s.

Bird is unsparing about disappointing relationships (Uh Huh, Love Has All Been Done Before, Going Gone), and sometimes the plainness of the language imparts an unexpected force: in Good at It?, the “it” is the it of the eternal teenage urge – “Have you done it yet?” – and the angry baldness of the question hits home. Other times, though, the hominess of the phrasing undercuts the slyness of the song. Going Gone takes an unusual subject – the role of the girlfriend in propping up a feckless boyfriend – but “I hate to inform you’re still living in your mother’s house” sounds like the retort you blurt out before the killer line comes to mind.

The album’s polished like a glass table, which sometimes works – when the keyboards come in on Ruins, it’s glorious – but the sparkle gets a bit wearing after a while; MOR-Americana-with-edges it may be, but the musical edges have been sanded down. There are hints of something here; if Bird is more than a one-season wonder, we might find what that something is.


Michael Hann

The GuardianTramp

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