On the odd occasion – somewhat sparingly, to be precise – along comes a musician that causes ripples on an often stagnant pond. When Birdy – real name Jasmine van der Bogaerde – swooped into the fray that is the music scene back in 2011, her surprisingly mature voice caused a bit of a stir, especially as – at the time of the release of her self-titled debut album – she was a mere 15 years of age. Now aged a positively ancient 17, has the young songstress managed to up the ante with her second album, Fire Within?
Fire Within opens with the soaring first single Wings, an atmospheric ballad that truly showcases Birdy’s strong and commanding voice, before dipping into the understated Heart Of Gold, a song that is perhaps the only one on the album which makes the singer’s vocals sound a tad rough around the chorus, instead of succeeding in creating a wounding effect. The joyous Light Me Up carries an air of Florence Welch (she of the mighty Machine) that makes for a pretty exhilarating song which, with its euphoric chorus, would not go amiss as a future single, whilst Laura Marling influences are drawn in the shape of the folk-tinged Words As Weapons, especially in the heart-wrenching lyrics ‘You think that you’re deep under my skin, you’re trying to keep me suffering – you use your words as a weapon, and as a weapon I’ll shed no tears’.
It quickly becomes apparent that Birdy possesses a voice that is incredibly emotive, and nowhere more so than in the devastating All You’ll Never Say, documenting the conflict of unspoken words and guarded emotions in a relationship. It is truly – and surprisingly – haunting, with lyrics such as ‘And all you never say is that you love me so, and all I’ll never know is if you want me, oh. If only I could look into your mind, maybe then I’d find a sign’ tugging resolutely at the heartstrings of the listener. Similarly, Strange Birds is a strangely sombre affair that carries an epic air and would not go amiss as the theme to a James Bond film.
The entirety of Fire Within is an accomplished affair, only made more impressive by Birdy’s still tender age. There are no songs here that could be perceived as ‘weak’ or ‘filler’, and that Birdy co-wrote the album is a testament to her promising future as a musician, where her individual songwriting abilities are more than likely to be nurtured and allowed to flourish. Efforts such as the tender Standing In The Way Of The Light and the wise No Angel showcase an unprecedented maturity in the singer who has come a long way from her cover of Bon Iver’s Skinny Love that brought her to light. Birdy is no longer a fledgling – she has truly flown the nest!
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