Jade bird – Different types of light
In a 2018 interview – that same year Rolling Stone named her a must-know musician – Jade Bird claimed that “no artist is one-dimensional”. Since the release of her 2017 EP Something American, which featured her as a country folk singer, the 23-year-old seems to be proving just that. Her self-titled debut the following year bared its teeth with a few punk tracks and rock influences. Their latest release continues to meander under the thumb of country music.
Different types of light show Bird how he emotionally unfolds. Their previous records have found their strength in deceptively optimistic inflammatory speeches against disappointing relationships, but now the Northumberland born singer seems open to love. That’s not to say Bird, who admitted to being a cynic in previous interviews, suddenly got sticky. But recording a track like “Rely On”, on which she sings “If you need me to tell on / I’m there for you” against gentle vocals and campfire guitar, she certainly shows a different side. At other times, Bird continues her gaze. On the rough “Candidate” she howls with Janis Joplin intensity against “any man who thinks I’m a fool” next to indie rock guitar riffs.
Bird continues to revel in Americana. Like their debut album, a large part of Different Kinds of Light was written in New York State. She still sings about going “down the 305” and one track is titled “Red, White and Blue”, but it also contains less predictable influences like the Britpop-era Blur and Oasis distortions of “1994” .
She closes with “Headstart”, a boisterous pop-rock song that most closely resembles her earlier work. Perhaps she wanted to let fans know that this isn’t a complete departure from her original sound. Bird isn’t a whole new artist on Different Kinds of Light, but here she proves that she was never the one-dimensional singer she might be mistaken for. Not then and not now. ON
Jake Bugg – Saturday evening, Sunday morning
Blink and you probably missed the three albums that followed Jake Bugg’s self-titled debut in 2012. At the time, the Nottingham-born singer was a guitar-strumming prodigy at the top of the charts. Critics compared his high-pitched guitar playing, howling singing, and socially smart lyrics to Bob Dylan and Noel Gallagher. However, they were weakened by the fast-sounding Shangri La and Buggs largely self-produced third album On My One from 2013, which raised eyebrows at its dance and hip-hop influences. In 2017, Bugg seemed to throw his hands up and revert to his original troubadour sound for Hearts That Strain.
Saturday Night, Sunday Morning is a cohesive sequel, but Bugg still seems at odds over the sound that first put him in the spotlight. “I want to let you know / I left the drawer / Now I have to find an edge / I won’t let go of it,” he yells over hand clapping and a gospel choir on the cheeky opener “All I Need”. There are plenty of hooks, in the squeaky bass of “About Last Night” and the Abba-sounding disco flare of “Lost”. Despite repeated claims that he loathes contemporary pop, Bugg has brought in two of his most prolific songwriters, Andrew Watt and Ali Tamposi, best known for their hits for Justin Bieber, Post Malone, Miley Cyrus and Dua Lipa.
With all the model friends and Burberry campaigns, Bugg wants to lead you to believe he hates the limelight and wants to be seen as an “authentic” musician. That’s fine, of course, but it sucks when this album has been put together by a team best known for their music that they supposedly despise. There is no doubt that it was Watt who contributed the seductive guitar melody that opens “About Last Night” because it’s almost exactly the same as “Senorita,” the track he wrote in 2019 with Tamposi for Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes Has. Bugg’s collaborator Jamie Hartman has also worked with Lewis Capaldi, which may explain why “Downtown” uses an eerily similar rocking piano melody to the Scottish singer’s monster hit “Someone You Loved”. Bugg can scowl at us as black and white as he likes, but Pop’s shiny mirror flashes right back. ROC