You may not suspect it at first, but listen further into “Ruins” and Jade Bird will deliver a crackling warble that harkens back to classic Janis Joplin. It’s even more fitting that the 22-year-old singer-songwriter can tap into the kind of genius the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee conjured at the height of her career. Bird tells EW she can start molding a song with just a single word in mind. Take the aforementioned “Ruins,” a track off the U.K. artist’s own self-titled debut album that dropped earlier this year.
“It’s the same for a lot of my songs like ‘Side effects’ or ‘Lottery.’ These words just seem to bring a moment of my life into my head that I then get down with numerous other words and chords,” she says.
Bird recently performed “Ruins” for EW’s In the Basement series, where she revealed the inspiration behind the first entry of her 12-track slice of Americana.
“I had a bit of a falling out with my partner,” Bird says of “Ruins.” “We had an argument and he went for a walk a long walk and I sat with my guitar in this hotel. It’s basically just about how sometimes when you’re touring you can forget how to put you guys first. That’s just in the same respect with life, and how sometimes everything can feel very perfect, and then the next it’s in ruins.”
The haunting flip-of-a-switch that can happen in a relationship is an idea that pervades the rest of the album, which features other soothing acoustic show-outs like “I Get No Joy” and “Lottery.” Despite the title of the former, Bird certainly manages to find solace in her music and burgeoning career; she recently toured with Irish indie rocker Hozier, a musical match of hypnotic vocals.
“It’s so important to like, make sure that they’re the right people around you, because that’s where it starts. The fun starts on stage. The fun starts in the studio. So you’ve got to have people that you love and feel quite close to,” she says.
If you’re hungry for a hint of what’s to come for Bird, she currently has a few musical interests that may inform her next project: “The Raincoats or Bikini Kill or Hole, you know, and then just some really psychedelic bands like the Meat Puppets that are just very obscure. I’m just in this little world right now of guitar music.”
Watch Jade Bird perform “Ruins” above.