Album review: Birdy – Fire Within

It’s been almost two years since Jasmine van den Bogaerde (aka Birdy) gifted us with her debut album which comprised mostly of chilled out cover versions of songs we probably didn’t even know before she put her elegant twist on them.

Today marks the day that the critically-acclaimed singer/songwriter releases her second album, and what an album it is! It is a both a breathtaking and refreshing follow-up to the huge success she received with the first album, and she is every bit as deserving of that success.

If you follow Birdy on Twitter or YouTube, you’ll know that the singer has been teasing us with tasters for weeks now. I honestly don’t think I could have waited another day for the release of this album.

So, let’s get to it!

I’m thrilled that she decided to open up the album with ‘Wings’. For me, it’s definitely the greatest song she has released to date, and it sets the mood for this album perfectly. Wings is an incredibly easy song to fall in love with, from that very first listen. It has a delightfully light and fluffy feel to it. Whether you’re in love, or not, this song will make you remember a time you were, or will encourage you to look forward to a time when you will be. Quite simply, it’s a celebration of love and longing and passion.

Usually after I’ve heard an album several times, I’m happy to entertain that handy little shuffle button, but listening to it for the first few times, I feel I owe it to the artist to listen to their collection in the order that they intended. If they are wise enough, they will spend a fair amount of time thinking about the way their songs relate to each other, and how they will transmit to their listener. Birdy has done just that!

Don’t be fooled into believing that the girl that we hear in ‘Wings’ has no more to offer us than her perhaps limited adolescent experience with love. ‘Heart of Gold’, the second track, opens up with the words “I can be strong when I want to be. You think I’m weak ‘cos you can tear me apart with the words that you speak.” This song offers a perfect contrast to the Birdy that were introduced to two years back, and also to the one that opens up the album. She has worked hard to show us every side of her, and it is that honesty that has produced such an emotionally raw and respected second album.

A few songs later, and we are back to the melancholic harmonies that Birdy first graced us with. “All you Never Say” feels reminiscent of the heavy heartfelt melodies that we’ve heard before from the likes of Adele. The ones that speak to us of unrequited love or the doubts that we all face while in love. It’s the kind of song that tears your heart out from your chest, yet somehow also repairs it. Not too many songs can do that, believe me! I’ve searched for them.

The album also introduces us to a new and unfamiliar side of Birdy, with more upbeat tracks such as “Light Me Up” and “All About You”. While these aren’t my favourite tracks, they do offer us a refreshing and more youthful sound, which I’m sure will appeal to many fans, new and old.

The main themes of the album are undoubtedly vulnerability, love and passion, but they are also contrasted quite strikingly with strength and empowerment. Birdy has found her voice, and it radiates rather beautifully.

Overall, I am absolutely in love with this album. I am thrilled that Birdy has stayed true to the angelic and melancholic sound that we first heard in her debut album, but I am even more delighted that she has combined it with such a powerful message.

Miley Cyrus really ought to take note… for this is how you show the world that you’re growing up and evolving without, well, whatever it is Miley does.

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