Birdy - Beautiful Lies
by Brett Dickinson
Birdy is a name almost exclusively known by the person on the street for her cover of Bon Iver’s Skinny Love which served as a rather noticeable announcement of her arrival on the music scene. However, after that Birdy slipped under the radar despite the release of her two first albums Birdy and Fire Within which, whilst well received and reviewed, never really received any sort of public acclaim or recognition. Yet each album has shown a developing musician, her first album, a collection of indie covers, showcasing her softly beautiful voice. Fire Within then built on this with Birdy then exploring her own songwriting talents and developing them. Now on her third album Beautiful Lies, Birdy expands the range and influences of her music growing more and more into a fully fledged musician. Birdy (real name Jasmine Lucilla Elizabeth Jennifer van der Bogarde – Birdy was a childhood nickname which all her friends still call her) describes the new album as a “coming of age record” and it is certainly a more developed, fuller album than its two predecessors showing an impressive maturity from an artist who is still only 19.
Lead single Keeping Your Head Up is one of the more upbeat songs on the album, moving Birdy out of her more ballady comfort zone into a slightly more pop or indie arena potentially, the type of music popularised by artists such as Florence And The Machine. Wild Horses is another more upbeat song, which would not have been out of place (in fact would have been one of the stronger tracks) on Foxes All I Need earlier this year, showcasing Birdy’s new musical confidence the lyrics: “I will survive and be the one who’s stronger” yet still showcases her vocal ability, her voice becoming softer for points in the song before crescendoing into each chorus.
Of course many of the tracks hark back to the simpler times of Birdy’s music where her voice took centre (and often the entire) stage with a little backing from a piano or guitar some songs on this album retain that more acoustic, sparse feel, Birdy not fully abandoning what has worked for her in the past and instead jut developing new avenues and extending her range. The more stripped back songs are by no means just filling up space on the album either, Lost It All and Silhouette follow each other on the album, both being slightly softer, but genuine and well- crafted songs, where Birdy’s vocals and in particular her lyrics, especially in Silhouette are allowed to come to the forefront and show the maturity of writing in the 19 year old.
Birdy’s experimentation is not just into the Florence And The Machine indie- pop style genre. The album is supposed to have been heavily influenced by eastern music which is most evident in the backing to Lifted whilst Hear You Calling draws on a variety of different places including Lana Del Rey’s typical dream-pop chorus, to the interesting background sounds which begin in the introduction and continue throughout the song. Although this slightly surprisingly in many ways, it takes nothing away from Birdy’s vocals which remain strong throughout.
Unbroken is probably the most acoustic track on the album with Birdy’s softly crooning voice supported by a beautiful piano melody yet again the experimentalism of the album is seen on this track as well with the use of a choir as backing about a minute from the end. This is one of the few experiments on the album that doesn’t really work, giving what’s otherwise a softly, beautiful song an out of sync 30 seconds towards the end. The album ends strongly with its two closing songs Give Up and Start Again both being well-worded songs focussing on Birdy’s lyrics and voice. The atmospheric build-up of Start Again would probably not have been chanced on an earlier album, yet the climax and subsequent fade creates a very smooth finish to a well made album. It’s hard to really fault this album in fact there is very little that seems out of place on it and it’s clear Birdy has grown and developed as an artist in the three years since Fire Within. We already knew she had a good voice - now it’s really just a question of whether she wants to develop it. It’ll be worth paying close attention to Birdy as this album shows no sign that’s she’s finished with moving forward just yet.