Review - Birdy – Birdy
Birdy, a 15 year old pianist and singer (yes, 15 years old) from the UK released her debut self-titled about a week ago (only in the UK and Ireland, however). The album is comprised of eleven cover songs – many of which are rather contemporary (Phoenix’s “1901” and Fleet Foxes “Winter White Hymnal”) and some which are just very well known (James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain”). This wouldn’t be so odd for a younger singer – for those insisting on making their own music (so, not the early Justin Biebers of the world), it takes time to develop a voice and your craft. Many young musicians get started by covering those that have come before them, and there is nothing wrong with that.
What is a bit odd about Birdy (real name Jasmine Van den Bogaerde) is that her cover album has done really rather well in her country. It debuted and peaked (thus far) at #13 – an impressive showing for a first album, let alone from a teenager, LET ALONE a cover album.
Not only has the album sold alright, but she has managed to place three songs in the top 50 – with her cover of Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love” being the best so far (peaking at #17).
Well, to be honest, I have been watching Birdy for a little bit, as I LOVED “Skinny Love”. It is really more than a touch haunting. When I first heard it, I was incredibly impressed that this young girl takes a song that helped launch Justin Vernon’s career, and really makes it her own.
The album itself is beautiful, crushing, and evokes a pain that no 15 year old girl should know (although of course, all do). Sparse in all the right places, ‘Birdy’ uses the spaces of silence to convey strong emotions. A simple pause from Birdy pulls at all the heartstrings and every piano stroke is powerful enough to knock you over.
She does get one of her own songs on the album, towards the end, but there none the less. “Without A Word”, while not necessarily single-worthy, is impressive in that it holds its ground with all of these established singles from long-standing artists. What really impresses me is that Birdy has not only managed to have one successful single that isn’t in the mainstream sound, but three.
The artists today who are writing and performing such beautiful songs that people can’t help but love them, even though they are a break from what they ever thought they would ever listen to are expanding the landscape of pop music today, and we owe them a lot. I’m talking to you, Adele, Duffy, Amy Winehouse, etc., etc. I am not equating Birdy with these powerhouse women; I would, however, keep an eye out for this one. She may never break the US mainstream, but she deserves a moment of attention.
Listen to: everything, especially "Skinny Love"