Whether she knows it or not, Jade Bird somehow manages to make life’s most painful moments sound so damn good. “That was like ripping off a band-aid”, she chuckles halfway through her headline show at London’s Village Underground after particularly gut-wrenching rendition of folk-ballad ‘Cathedral’.
This knowing attitude, paired with her soul-baring musicianship and songwriting is what makes Bird such a promising prospect. At just 20-years-old, the Northumbria native shows magnificent poise to both hold an audience in the palm of her hand when she goes solo or when things are kicked up a notch up with a full band. This night does not seem to be going as painful as she thinks.
She had reason to be nervous, mind. This current nationwide jaunt is her first ever headline tour – and off the back of a BBC Sound Of 2018 nomination, a full house turned up for her biggest show to date. There’s hints of nervousness, but that’s only when Bird turns entertainer between songs; wisecracking in an American twang, with the odd chuckle as she hardly seems to believe we are all here.
But it’s obvious from the opening notes why she’s such an unmissable prospect. From the country chords of opener ‘What Am I Here For’ through to the wistful ‘Something American’, and back round to the dark humour on ‘Anniversary’ (“Baby thanks for leaving me, happy anniversary”) Bird’s charismatic self shines through. When she incorporates the band – like on the bristling ‘Lottery’ – there’s clear signals of her ability to take this thing to the next level.
And Bird will take this to the next level. There’s hints of country legends like Dolly Parton in her songs and she holds her own among fellow contemporaries like Margo Price oh-so-well – though her ability of crafting a perfect pop chorus in the shape of ‘Lottery’ proves that she’s not leaving this one up to chance. We’ve got a winner on our hands right here.