Say you've just come across U.K. singer-songwriter Jade Bird's pop-rock confection "Lottery." You're feeling the mellow melodies on the verse. You're grooving. And then suddenly, as soon as that chorus hits, her voice reveals itself like a turbine engine turning on. Now you're awake. And you're all in.
It's a neat little trick Bird does — delaying then deploying her raw vocal power at the perfect moment — on songs like the roaring "I Get No Joy" and the beloved, rambunctious "Uh Huh." The skeletons underneath these big bursts, though, are often very simple: songs written with only a handful of chords, some of them penned in a barn near Woodstock, New York, leaving plenty of room for Bird, MTV's PUSH artist for the month of March, to express herself.
"When you're not worried about the chords, you start saying your true feelings," she told MTV recently.
At freshly 21, Bird is poised to share those true feelings on a forthcoming debut album. It's a long time coming. She started out on piano in a musical family with a mom who blasted Shakira, Shania Twain, and the Chemical Brothers when she was young. Eventually, she hopped on guitar started working on songs at age 12. Her first live gig came soon after, at 13, in a pub. She was wearing a leopard-print dress.
"It was scary and it was daunting," she said, "and then I did it again and again and again and again, and it was less scary." Not even a decade later, she's already looking ahead to her second album, continuing to sharpen her toolkit, and keeping her ears open for new music to listen to and get inspired by.
"I think I'm eclectic and I'm never afraid to not know an artist or a band or an album because I want to hear it," Bird said. "I always find if you're a music lover — which I am, I'm a music fan first — if you're in a conversation, they go, 'Have you heard this album?' I'll go home and I'll check it out. I think that's what separates you from growing your taste."
Get to know Jade Bird in the full interview below, and watch her bellow her great and playful song "I Get No Joy" above.