Jade Bird
Jade Bird


3.7
great

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
April 19th, 2019 | 27 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The anti-SadIndieChick

Something amazing happened in the last few years. Incredibly talented women started to surface all throughout the indie-pop music scene: Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, Haley Heynderickx, Soccer Mommy, Madeline Kenney, Molly Burch, Tomberlin…the list goes on for miles. I got caught up in it about as much as anyone, and for good reason. But as I rode the wave of euphoria, sinking into Bridgers’ sweet vocal harmonies and listening in awe at the subtle instrumental complexity of Heynderickx’s I Need To Start a Garden, I started to find myself getting a little annoyed at the endless line of acoustic-guitar wielding women lining up behind them, ready-made to capitalize on the success of the trend. By the time 2018 ended, it seemed that all you needed was a guitar and depressing mannerisms, and maybe someone willing to throw a few strings into the background on your behalf, in order to be hailed by certain hyperbolic publications as “brave” and part of the ever-furthering of women’s rights. While this may be true of a select few artists, it does not apply to everyone – independent or label-backed - who saw the acclaim these women were receiving and salivated at the thought of how mind-numbingly easy it would be to throw their hat into the ring and earn a piece of that pie. I called it the “Sad Indie Chick Movement.”

Thank god for artists like Jade Bird, who just go and do their own thing. I’m not saying she’s one of a kind, but her no-fucks-given attitude is exactly the reprieve I needed from the endless train of depressing acoustic pop. ‘Uh Huh’ is what first hooked me, Bird’s vocals just rough-around-the-edges enough to qualify as interesting – not unlike the way that Kristian Mattson burst onto the male side of the indie-folk coin earlier in the decade – yet with enough force behind those pipes to drive home the highest of highs and lowest of lows. There’s not a twisted little sarcastic quip that she’s not capable of delivering with decisiveness and power. She’s also able to peel back the layers and sing those softer, more emotionally poignant moments – like the touching ‘If I Die’, where she pleads, “If I die, don't put me in stars / I'm never that far away from you.” Her versatility reminds me of some of the great female rock icons of 70s classic rock, and at the very least there’s a vintage 90s feel – Bird herself cited rock as her primary influence over other genres that were more popular during her teenage years, such as emo and pop-punk. It’s refreshing because that shows in her product, and this eponymous debut is very much a rock record more than any kind of artsy or experimentally-driven pop. She’s part of a whole different scene than most of the women earning acclaim right now, and that scene is a lot smaller and meeker – women in rock. I know enough by now to never say an artist is going to revive rock n’ roll, but Bird has the multifaceted skill set to master pretty much any approach she decides to take.

With regards to Jade Bird, it’s a very digestible and fun debut LP. The record for the most part stays upbeat, her rural folksy wails providing the bread and butter for the majority of the choruses while the instrumental backing remains rooted in paced acoustic guitars and raw drumming that gives the experience a live feel. There’s no denying that the primary attraction here is Bird’s unique voice, which may feel like it’s made for rock but is capable of singing any style – whether it’s the frantic and confident ‘Uh Huh’ or a more subdued number like ‘17.’ The record offers listeners just about every hue in the tempo spectrum, shaking things up with ease thanks to Jade’s nimble range. Fans of vocal-centric pop rock will immediately identify with Jade Bird, a piece that provides infectious choruses that are set to real, tangible instruments – not just varying shades of ambience. It’s an earthy, mainstream record for listeners who want a boots on the ground moment after floating around inside all of the hazy, ethereal art-pop of the last several years. It’s not groundbreaking, but it’s a welcome change.




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Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
April 19th 2019


30683 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

A very fun/catchy album, nothing new or insanely insightful. Hopefully I didn't ruffle any feathers, I think I refrained from putting my foot in my mouth too bad with the remark about women in music. I know there's plenty of watered down male artists in indie-pop too, so the same holds true regardless of sex. I'm just tired of coattail riders, and this feels just different enough.

Digging: Tyler, the Creator - Igor

Slex
April 19th 2019


6636 Comments


Was curious about this, will give it a shot

Digging: Charly Bliss - Young Enough

SowingSeason
Moderator
April 19th 2019


30683 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Yeah I was curious too, and the album pretty much delivers on what the singles promise. I don't think it'll make any year-end lists, but it's quite an enjoyable listen.

Faraudo
April 20th 2019


2918 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Digging this quite a lot.

Digging: The National - I Am Easy to Find

NorthernSkylark
April 20th 2019


9352 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review.

So far my faves are: Lottery, My Motto, I Get No Joy and Uh Huh.

Digging: Kevin Morby - Singing Saw

Atari
Staff Reviewer
April 20th 2019


24615 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Her more abrasive vocal parts remind me of Hop Along

Digging: Radiator Hospital - Sings "Music for Daydreaming"

SowingSeason
Moderator
April 20th 2019


30683 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Definitely on point with the vocal comparison there. It's like Hop Along's vocalist singing accessible pop rock.

BeardedBird
April 20th 2019


27 Comments


Love Has All Been Done Before is fantastic.

wwf
April 21st 2019


6279 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

sort of unrelated, I think I kind of hate the 'GOD WHY ARE THERE SO MANY INDIE CHICKS THESE DAYS' comments



like why are there all these womens in our musics





just dig the good music damn. you don't need to justify liking a female artist by saying, 'I know there's way too many female artists in this genre that are popular right now, but THIS one is great'



I know that's not quite the point of your review, there definitely is a different kind of philosophy behind something like this than something like the Julien Baker/ Phoebe Bridgers crowd

wwf
April 21st 2019


6279 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

but on topic, I've heard I Get No Joy and that song bangs

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
April 21st 2019


41786 Comments


...yeah there's a weird nasty anti-hype against this particular form of women-fronted stuff (not necessarily moreso on this site than anywhere else) where it's like 'ah if only the whole genre could be as good as [x 2-4 female indie artists you've chosen to like]' even though we've been hyping every guy who rips off Sufjan Stevens for like a decade now. not necessarily a deliberate or even conscious thing, but it's definitely a thing

Digging: The National - I Am Easy to Find

SowingSeason
Moderator
April 21st 2019


30683 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Yeah definitely not what I was going for with this review which I'm glad you recognized --- I'm merely criticizing an overwrought trend that happens to have been exploited by a lot of women. I'm not criticizing it because they're women and even went on to say that the same sentiment could be echoed for males in indie pop. I loved the hell out of the trend anyway fwiw, all the "sad indie chicks" I mentioned were among my favorite artists of the last few years.

AsleepInTheBack
April 21st 2019


5961 Comments


Great review. Another one to check is 'Cat Clyde' for a blusey folky indie chick that doesn't fall into the usual sad sack lane, as much as I love that lane

NorthernSkylark
April 22nd 2019


9352 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this has killer replay value.

claygurnz
April 22nd 2019


5301 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is really nice, Love Has All Been Done Before and Lottery especially

ProjectFreak
April 22nd 2019


3611 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

There's enough character and variety in the songwriting to make me want to come back to this.

Winsomniac
April 22nd 2019


8570 Comments


Good review! I'll have to check this out sometime.

Also, I don't think anyone should be afraid of ruffling feathers.

SowingSeason
Moderator
April 23rd 2019


30683 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Yeah I love her personality in these songs. She's got a rougher vibe and the wit to match.

Itwasthatwas
April 24th 2019


1555 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I ended up seeing her live with my wife recently and she just played with an acoustic instead of with an accompanying band. The louder tunes didn't really work in that context - vocals just came across as grating.



I've never liked this style of straightforward verse/chorus pop rock even when I was younger so it was a hard sell. She's able to get that pushed edge to her vocals though where there's just a little bit of distortion, and would be a good front woman for a band with a more interesting alternative rock sound.



On the album, vocals are good, but the arrangements and compositions are boring.

supremejelly
April 24th 2019


1073 Comments


My friend's initial impression of this: "feels like i'm listening to a female third eye blind". I kind of see where he's coming from. Really digging this

Digging: '68 - Two Parts Viper



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