Birdy shows vocal and lyrical growth on third record
Believe it or not, but it is already five years ago that Jasmine van den Bogaerde, better known as Birdy, stormed the music scene at the age of 14 with her piano cover of Bon Iver’s ‘Skinny Love’. Her first album full of fragile indie covers sold well, but back then it wasn’t clear if she would be able to repeat the same success with her own music. In 2013 she came back with the album Fire Within, including the hypnotically beautiful lead single ‘Wings’ and a handful of pretty ballads. It took her 2,5 years to finish the follow up album Beautiful Lies, but she shows great growth once again, vocally, lyrically and in terms of sound.
Birdy did let us hear a completely different side to her art when she came back with the single ‘Keeping Your Head Up’ on New Years Day. The uplifting and catchy tune has a huge chorus, where the young singer-songwriter experiments with a higher range of her vocals. The almost bombastic power of the track even echoed a little bit of Florence + the Machine. Second single ‘Wild Horses’ shows a lyrical confidence and maturity and the ability to write a personal and emotional song which at the same time seems tailor made for radio.
On the first track of the record, ‘Growing Pains’, the Eastern influences are easily recognizable in the instrumentation and the melody. Birdy explained to be inspired by the story of Memoirs of a Geisha. It is a subtle stylistic element that runs through the whole record. From ‘Skinny Love’ on, Birdy always received praise for her distinctive tone of voice, but in the three years after Fire Within, she definitely gained some more confidence when it comes to showing off the full spectrum of her voice. On the compelling, exciting and maybe even a little haunting ‘Shadow’ she reaches high heights, at times even reminding us of the vocal acrobatics Kate Bush used to pull off. The dark verses of the moving slowie ‘Silhouette’ at the same time shows the depth of her emotional delivery.
Although Birdy sounds more experimental than she ever did before, she still stays within the frame of her emotive brand of singer-songwriter pop. Although the record could have done with more radical sonic experiments, it is undeniable that Birdy still pulls off the piano balladry perfectly. The understated title track ‘Beautiful Lies’ definitely has one of the most beautiful melodies she has ever written and does not need anything more than a piano and those soaring vocals. On ‘Save Yourself’ her mature lyrics sound heartbreaking when she sings: “save yourself my darling, kill the love that’s dying”, a good example of the confidence and self awareness she showcases in the stories of this album.
Birdy’s third album is one that shows growth, without departing too radically from the sound that actually made her a successful artist to begin with. For the next one it would be great if she would take the experimenting a little further to give her tracks a little more bite, but this is once again an impressive collection of songs from a teenager that still has a long career to enjoy!
Must listen: Growing Pains, Shadow, Silhouette, Beautiful Lies, Save Yourself (don’t forget to check out the singles if you didn’t already)