Birdy aka Jasmine van den Bogaerde may only be 17 but she’s packed a lot into her life. At just 12 years of age she won Open Mic UK and released her debut album in 2011 spawning the hits Skinny Love and Shelter. The album was certified Gold in the UK and peaked at number 13. It hit number 1 in Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands. Two years on from that release and Birdy is back with her second album Fire Within which was released this week.
Unlike her self-titled debut album, Fire Within isn’t a collection of cover versions. For the album Birdy has teamed up with big-name producers including OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder, Greg Wells and Fraser T. Smith to name a few. The album opens with current single Wings which Birdy co-wrote with Ryan Tedder. His stamp is evident from the epic soundscape that is the song’s intro but once Birdy’s quivering vocals come in you know that you are unmistakeably listening to the impressive young artist. The original track retains the goose-bump inducing formula that made her debut album so special but allows her to spread her creative wings to establish her own style.
The feel of the whole album is mid-tempo led by piano. The focus is very much on Birdy’s distinctive voice which is her strongest asset. She sounds unlike anyone else in the charts and refreshing to find a female artist that isn’t trying to mimic Amy Winehouse or Jessie J. The captivating nature of her music is evident throughout the record but Heart of Gold is one of those moments where you sit in complete silence taking in the awe that is Birdy. An emotive piano melody combines with Birdy’s pure vocals for something truly special.
Elsewhere on the album the tempo is upped on the beat-driven Light Me Up which showcases a different side to Birdy, Maybe mixes light folk into the mix for a gorgeous 3 minutes of alt-pop, and All About You swaps out piano for acoustic guitar showing that Birdy’s voice sounds fantastic away from the piano too.
There’s no denying that Birdy truly shines when it’s just her and the piano. Album close Shine is one of the most beautiful moments on the record and takes away the more polished production of the rest of the album. The tone of Birdy’s voice is so beautiful and she emotes so believably you can’t help but get swept away by her beauty.
Birdy is a truly special talent and one that deserves to shine as brightly as she can. The quality of her output belies her young years and there’s something so magnificent that happens when she sits at her piano. Fire Within is a truly special record that contains so many remarkable moments that our words in this review simply can’t do it justice. The music industry is often criticised for pumping out talentless auto-tuned pop tarts but people should look to Birdy and see that true talent still does shine through.