tue 17/09/2019

CD: Birdy - Beautiful Lies | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Birdy - Beautiful Lies

CD: Birdy - Beautiful Lies

Former fragile indie gal expands her sound

Birdy: the real deal?

Despite her best efforts, Jasmine Lucilla van den Bogaerde aka Birdy is, probably, still best known for covering Bon Iver's "Skinny Love", aged 14. Like a John Lewis ad that never was, the song possessed a winsome sophistication that won her a diversity of admirers.

It also prompted the question, "what next?" Would Birdy go on to tread a gentle folk-rock path like Laura Marling – another well-heeled ex prodigy from Hampshire? Or would her sound develop into something altogether more idiosyncratic? Birdy's first self-penned album Fire Within failed to settle the issue. Beautiful Lies – her coming of age collection – comes out more defiantly.

At its best, this is the sort of whimsical pop Bat for Lashes might be proud of. Birdy's melodies evoke English scenes hinted at by the actual words – charging horses, mysterious assignations and autumnal regret. Her vocals frequently suggest Kate Bush, PJ Harvey and Marina and the Diamonds, reinforcing the particularly British flavour. Critics may sometimes roll their eyes at oddball, well-educated female singers, but as a nation we undeniably have a soft spot for them. 

There's certainly something rather lovable about the chorus of "Shadow" – a nuanced folk-rock melody carried on the shoulders of Eighties synths. "Lost it All", with its gentle piano and brushed drum patterns, is similarly pretty. And the album bows out with the title track, which has that kind of beguiling simplicity many songwriters spend years trying to achieve. 

At 13 tracks, though, this is also a longish album with a fair amount of padding. More concerning is that certain choruses are less flights of fancy than bruisers ready to fight their way through the tannoy systems of local malls. The worst offender is lead single, "Keeping your Head Up", which comes across like something Florence Welch might pen. Cynics might suggest it's this mainstream end of Birdy's range she will be most encouraged to pursue. But that would be a shame – in an era full of bogus "quirky" chanteuses, Birdy has a better than average claim to be the real deal.

The title track has that kind of beguiling simplicity many songwriters spend years trying to achieve

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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