Jade Bird Grows Up With New Album, ‘Different Kinds of Light’
When 2020 began, Jade Bird thought she had her next album all planned out and ready to record. And then ... well, you know the rest.
"It was a year of waiting around, thinking about [things], not knowing what to do," Bird tells The Boot of her time during the COVID-19 pandemic. She relished the opportunity to spend more quality time with her family, but she also set goals for herself: Large sheets of paper stuck to her wall tracked how many books she could read, how often she could work out, how many songs she could write.
"It's super obsessive and not advisable ...," Bird admits, "[but] it was really useful to throw myself into."
As the English singer-songwriter sat with what she had originally written for the album that became Different Kinds of Light — out Friday (Aug. 13) — then quarantined in Mexico before finally arriving in the United States to record, she started writing again. "I got about six or seven songs that ended up making the record in that period of time," Bird shares — a not-insubstantial number, given that the record is 14 songs long.
"I think [the new songs made the album] a little bit darker," the artist reflects. "But there's also these huge, new spots of light," she adds, citing the optimistic, bright and jangly "Now's the Time" — which encourages in its fast-talking hook, "Now's the time / To go and get it" — as one of the songs among that group.
"I think having this innate optimism blitzed into the record was actually quite nice," Bird says, before pointing out another song from that time, "I'm Getting Lost," that "came from this frustration of feeling pent up — but not in the pandemic, in the sense of being a young woman or tour, feeling like I couldn't go out and explore the city at night for safety concerns, and I was always really, really frustrated by that."
There's also "Punchline," in which a man is going through a midlife crisis of sorts, inspired by the "small-town mentality" cultivated during Bird's childhood and influenced by Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty's imagery and Fleetwood Mac's harmonies.
"I never thought I was a visual person, and I've noticed more recently, I do have these real vignette-esque images in my head when I'm writing; I really can see the situation," Bird says. "Sometimes when I write, I just follow it."
The better way to look at how that pandemic-precipitated pause changed Different Kinds of Light is to look at how it changed Bird, who turned 23 in October of 2020.
"That bit of time, I think, turned me into a much, much better writer than I was when I started it," she reflects. That doesn't mean, though, that Bird can't still find herself in her earlier work.
"I was very precious about not co-writing, so every lyric on [my first] record is very, very much me ...," says Bird, looking back to the self-titled debut album she released in 2019, when she was 21. "I think at times it rings a bit more of a maturity that I no longer resonate with, but I still resonate with her, which is the biggest success, for me, of that first record, for all its flaws. I know who it was and what it was supposed to be."
Still, Bird notes, she's learned to write with more empathy, and to be less self-indulgent in her artistry. "I found it really, as a writer, quite mundane to keep going over and over and over how I feel about this [or that]," she says — a product of her romantic relationship with her guitarist, Luke Prosser, but also, simply, of growing up.
"I think, when you're young, you just have this want to take over the world," Bird agrees, "and when you're older, you just sort of want to be happier and, more importantly, want the others around you to be happy."