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All Bets Are On Jade Bird

May 21, 2018
Originally published on May 23, 2018 7:18 am

Jade Bird is a 20-year-old British-born artist whose songs feel like they were birthed from the hardscrabble spirit of Americana music. Armed with a white guitar and a crystalline voice, this NPR Music 2018 Slingshot artist has a knack for writing songs about the moments in life that you wish you could forget.

Bird developed a fascination with America early in life, partially through the work of country music icons Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton. These women endured hardship and were able to rise above. Bird draws from their resilience. On her 2017 EP Something American, Bird sings about betrayal and the death of young love. But she isn't trapped by those instances. Instead, Bird reclaims them by using her booming, sometimes raspy voice to snarl back at the sources of her unhappiness.

But on her latest song "Lottery," the young talent seems to be pulling influence from Alanis Morissette. The song starts off sweetly, exuding youthful innocence as she recalls a conversation with an ex-boyfriend, but then quickly takes an aggressive turn. Bird's voice fills with rage and disappointment over her former partner's decision to bet on love with another woman.

Though she has yet to release a debut album, Bird will go on her first North American headlining tour this fall. With multifaceted potential, there's no telling where this Bird will land.

Copyright 2018 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

So "Jagged Little Pill" was also a huge influence for a girl learning to write songs in the U.K. But it was her interest in classic American country music that made her the rising star she is today. Reporter Hady Mawajdeh of KERA in Dallas tells us about a British songwriter who sounds like she was plucked from the American heartland.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GOOD WOMAN")

JADE BIRD: (Singing) One minute, you told two lies - that you love me, and it was you and I.

HADY MAWAJDEH, BYLINE: Armed with a big white guitar and a crystalline voice, 20-year-old Jade Bird has a knack for writing songs about the moments in life that you wish you could forget. A child of divorce, Bird says broken vows and forgotten promises are natural topics for her.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GOOD WOMAN")

BIRD: (Singing) You're giving me a heart attack. Ooh, what are you thinking? What all do you take me for? Ooh, what are you thinking? She's cheaper than a dollar-store version of me, version of me, a version of me, a version of me.

MAWAJDEH: Jade Bird developed a fascination with what it meant to be American partially through discovering the work of hardscrabble country music icons Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton. These women endured hardships and were able to rise above. Bird drew from their resilience.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SOMETHING AMERICAN")

BIRD: (Singing) I'm not nice like her, won't wear white like her, don't live life with the pages mapped out. No, I'm not perfect. But then no one is. We're all reaching for something American.

MAWAJDEH: With Jade Bird's newest single, though - a song called "Lottery" - she's starting to show that Alanis Morissette influence. See if this rings a bell. It starts off sweetly, exuding youthful innocence as she recalls a conversation with an ex-boyfriend. But quickly, it takes an aggressive turn. Bird's voice fills with rage and disappointment over her former partner's decision to bet on love with another woman.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOTTERY")

BIRD: (Singing) You used to tell me that love is a lottery. But you got your numbers, and you're betting on me.

MAWAJDEH: Jade Bird has yet to release a full album, but "Lottery," is already becoming a big hit. On top of that, she's announced her first North American headlining tour. That starts this fall. And if "Lottery" is any indication of what's to come, who knows where this bird will land?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOTTERY")

BIRD: (Singing) No, but he's 30.

GREENE: Hady Mawajdeh from member station KERA in Dallas, talking about Jade Bird, who's featured in NPR Music's rising stars project, Slingshot. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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