ON THE PHONE, Bridie Monds-Watson sounds every bit of her 19 years. Her quiet Irish voice is curled with bemusement, distractedness, and a touch of annoyance. And tucked underneath every word is exhaustion, the product of an itinerary that has kept her in airplanes, vans, and tour buses for the better part of 2015.
"It has been crazy," she admits of her schedule. "Nothing's been too hard to control or anything, and I've adapted well. Being away from home for months at a time is the hard part. But if you have a routine and all that, it's fine."
The source of this stream of activity is her first album Before We Forgot How to Dream. Recorded as Soak, the LP has caught fans and critics in the fog of her intricate modern folk arrangements and lyrics that explore the quiet desperations of everyday life. In the song "Blud," she tries to understand the shouting of her family members happening above her room ("Hear the anger through the ceiling/I wish I missed it") and in "Sea Creatures," she prays for a friend's mental peace ("Please, please get better/for you, for me"). As filtered through her warm Derry accent, these simple expressions become riveting poetry.
The album, and the spare acoustic EPs that preceded it, also reveal her to be refreshingly self-aware. Few other teens could bring the calm that she does to lines like, "When you're young and reckless/you should not be stopped." That mindfulness has served her well as she fielded offers from record labels and managers at 16 and as she now deals with big stages like this year's Glastonbury Festival and an upcoming gig at Glasgow's Bellahouston Park, where she'll play to potentially 35,000 people as an opening act for Paolo Nutini.
Exciting as it all is, when I ask if she's going to get a break soon, she slowly exhales. "Probably not. I'm on this tour for two weeks, then a six-week tour of Europe in September. And I'll probably be back in the States with the full band at the end of the year. I probably won't be stopping for quite a while."