Claiming top spots on multiple Billboard charts with songs like “Honeybee” and “Rivers and Roads,” indie-folk collective The Head and the Heart makes its Wolf Trap debut in support of their latest release, Every Shade of Blue. Singer/songwriter Jade Bird kicks off the evening.
ABOUT THE HEAD AND THE HEART
Initially self-released in 2011, The Head And The Heart’s self-titled breakout debut produced instant classics including “Rivers and Roads,” “Down In The Valley,” and “Lost In My Mind” (No. 1 at AAA) and is now certified gold. Their next two albums, 2013’s Let’s Be Still and 2016’s Signs of Light, settled into Billboard’s Top 10 albums chart, with Signs of Light securing the No. 1 position on Rock Album Charts.
“Honeybee” became a fan favorite and breakout track from the band’s fourth full-length album, Living Mirage, released on Warner Records/Reprise Records to critical praise in 2019. The track has seen 100 million streams globally with weekly streams over one million in the U.S.
The band’s high energy live show has sold out six previous Red Rocks and established their status as a touring powerhouse, having landed prime time mainstage slots at Coachella, Lollapalooza, and Austin City Limits.
They have appeared in Cameron Crowe’s Roadies, with music featured in countless other commercials, films, and TV, among them Corona, Silver Linings Playbook, and more. In total, the band has performed 15 times on national television including appearances on Ellen, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, and Austin City Limits, with more to come in the coming months.
ABOUT JADE BIRD
For Jade Bird, the second that lockdown lifted, there were no aimless summer days spent meeting friends in parks and no languorous evenings in pub gardens. She was headed straight back to Nashville to complete her second album—albeit via a strict two-week quarantine in Mexico City. She allowed herself to see no more of the Mexican capital than the local store and a leg-stretching walk around the block, not wanting to jeopardize any chance of being allowed into the States to finish what she had started with Grammy-winning producer Dave Cobb (Brandi Carlile, John Prine, Lady Gaga). The highlight of her stay in Mexico was literally her boyfriend pointing out a particularly gnarly spider he spotted as he had a cigarette on the balcony. “I move on really quick,” Bird explains of the urgency she felt. “My partner always says there’s no in between with me whatsoever, it’s on or it’s off. My feeling was: I’m in it, I love these songs, I want to sing. That’s why we made heaven and earth move so I could do that in that moment.”
For Bird, moving fast was about staying connected to the music that she had written (as always), not capitalizing on momentum or anyone else’s idea of a career plan. She had a taste of the UK hype cycle, making the BBC‘s 2018 “Sound Of…” poll and being tipped everywhere from Vogue to Rolling Stone. Her self-titled debut album arrived a year later. Despite those early garlands, she didn’t become an overnight success. “I was really glad,” she says. “Musically I was not ready. Lyrically I was not ready. And mentally I was not ready.” Nevertheless, Bird—as barnstorming an album as came out in 2019—received plaudits from the likes of Pitchfork and NPR. And it showed Bird, an obsessive at bettering her craft, how she wanted to build on the foundations she had laid. She was grateful that her label, Glassnote, was invested in letting her develop album by album. “If you lose a sense of who you are, to re-establish that is really difficult,” she says of the pressures hype puts on developing artists. “And the time that it takes for you to re-evaluate your life, your sound, who you are, the UK doesn’t have time for that either.”
That mature perspective is typical of Bird, who even at 21 was wise to how young female musicians are expected to become cute ambassadors for feminism. (“I’m not sure how to do anything but what I’m doing because what I’m doing is feminism,” she told the Guardian. “You don’t need to wear a hashtag T-shirt.”) Still, as all 21-year-olds tend to, she thought she had life pegged. A standout from her debut, “Love Has All Been Done Before,” looked at her mum and her grandma’s respective divorces and confidently concluded that any relationship of hers would also end up doomed. She proved herself wrong: she’s been with her boyfriend (he’s also her guitarist) for three years. “I ended up realizing I’m really happy and stable,” she says.
Her new song, “Houdini,” puts to bed the part of her past where she was obsessed with literal abandonment. If her debut reflected on “literally every male family member being absent, present, absent, present,” she says, Different Kinds of Light (2021) reflects on what it means to stay, to love, to allow yourself to be loved. It’s about “being with somebody who you adore more than the whole world that hasn’t got the foundations to believe in themselves,” she says. “Hasn’t had people supporting them in a way that their potential can be realized, ’cause they’ve been crippled by the people or environments that surround them.”
Bird translated these conflicted emotional states into sharply observed narrative vignettes that show her flair as a storyteller: the guy oblivious to what’s in front of him, the escape artist who confesses to being “asleep at the wheel my whole damn life;” the wastrel burning through their promise. “If I had a penny for all your potential, I’d be left drowning in my mouthful of metal,” Bird sings on “Now Is the Time.” It speaks to how quickly her writing has matured from the more polemical storytelling of her debut. “When you’re young, you sit in a chaos of emotions and desperately try to write out of it,” says Bird, who’s still only 24. “But when you’re older, you work out what’s affected you and why more clearly. It’s amazing what two years can do: it’s like you’re writing as you’re watching instead of writing to see.”
Different Kinds of Light (2021) was properly born in a rental in upstate New York in January. Some came from the song-a-day project that she undertook during lockdown, which she spent with her boyfriend, her mum, and grandma at home near Gatwick. In Mexico, she pushed herself to write more and found her British influences—the Smiths, Cocteau Twins—coming out. She used to road-test songs live; not being able to do so this year brought out a different side of her writing. One new highlight, “I’m Getting Lost,” “is quite a bizarre riff to jam out,” says Bird, “so it helped me evolve at the same time.”
After a session together earlier in the year that minted their studio chemistry, Bird returned to Nashville with more new material to bring to life with Dave Cobb, though she maintained an equally monastic lifestyle, moving strictly between her apartment and the studio to protect herself and her collaborators. She and Cobb had clicked in an earlier session thanks to how he treated her potent yet weathered vocals. “I love anyone who can make you sound so imperfect in a great way,” she says. They let her sound find its groove, joining tough ‘90s alt-rock and the melodicism of Blur and Oasis at their sweetest to the taut rattle of Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger.” “That rock element that I’ve been missing and deeply love,” is how Bird describes it. “If I’m in the car, that’s what I put on.”