Jade Bird is still a teenager. At 19, she should be worried about surviving her first year of college or nursing her first heartbreak. Instead, she's touring the U.S. in support of her new EP, "Something American," which channels the concerns and sentiments of someone twice her age.
Produced by Simone Felice and David Baron (The Lumineers, Bat for Lashes, Conor Oberst), the five-song collection features Matt Johnson (Jeff Buckley, St. Vincent) on drums and Sara Lee (B-52s) on bass. The emerging British folk singer/songwriter recorded the EP near Woodstock in Rhinebeck, New York, having been especially drawn to that very American state of mind.
"I’ve been real inspired by the American attitude. It coincides with my own: always looking on the brightside. Everyone I’ve met is optimistic about stuff. It's that very unapologetic attitude as well," Bird told me over the phone earlier this month.
But she hasn't abandoned her roots, she's just incorporated the American influence into her European upbringing. Growing up, Bird was a self-proclaimed army brat, constantly moving around from the north of England to Germany to Wales.
"I feel like I’ve almost got an insight into the skeleton of the relationship [between music and travel]. I feel like all it’s done is benefit me," she said.
"I don’t feel super connected to anything ... I get to see all of these places and I very rarely get homesick," she added.
That nomadic childhood seems to have served her well, musically speaking. She's part Americana, part British folk, part pop and even part Delta blues. But she has some other surprising influences as well.
"The big, big people are Alanis Morisette and Patti Smith, [who] had a huge influence on me," she said.
The power and unique control that she has over her voice both affirm those influences, and this wunderkind has a prosperous future ahead of her if she keeps reaching.
"We're always reaching for something American," she sings in "Something American."
"Always reaching for something else. Always thinking about the tier above us," Bird told me.
Jade Bird supports Son Little at Soda Bar on Saturday, Nov. 4. Get tickets here.
Rutger Rosenborg was almost a Stanford poet-neuroscientist before he formed Ed Ghost Tucker. Whoops. He now fronts the Lulls, plays lead guitar in LA band Velvet and makes music on his own when he's not writing. Follow his updates on Instagram and Twitter (@RArosenborg), add him on Facebook or contact him directly.