Thursday 10 November 2011

Birdy - Birdy

Releasing a covers album is a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, it offers something familiar yet different, tapping into listener nostalgia.  On the other hand, it's a cover up for a lack of original material.

With Birdy's debut album, she at least proves she has great taste in alternative music - from Phoenix, to Bon Iver, The Postal Service and more.  Each of these tracks has been Birdy-fied - stripped down to piano and voice - and whilst the majority don't quite stand up to the originals, some are more successful than others.  Both The District Sleeps Alone Tonight and Young Blood cleverly retain the spirit of the originals, subtly incorporating synth drums and fuzzy guitars respectively.  Then there's I'll Never Forget You, the original (by Francis and the Lights) already a piano track that doesn't allow Birdy to spread her wings.  White Winter Hymnal lacks the rich harmonies of the Fleet Foxes original, whilst The National's Terrible Love here reeks of X-Factor production.  The album also includes her previous two singles, Bon Iver's Skinny Love and the XX's Shelter - the former a track that shouldn't be messed with though is here nontheless haunting, the latter a version I prefer to the dull original. 

The penultimate track is the only original song, Without A Word.  It fits in nicely with the rest of the songs, but shows that Birdy does have a distinct sound that becomes slightly tiresome after a time.  What she does possess, is an inate ability to bring out the emotion in any given song, which she proves in abundance.  Some may dismiss this as teenage 'emo', but her vocal skills belie her young age in an album that is frequently beautiful. 

Released in the same week as Cher Lloyd's debut effort, the differences between these young girls are telling.  One is a vexatious brat with minimal talent.  The other is a rough diamond who, once her songwriting skills catch up with those of her inspiration, will be a force to be reckoned with.  I know which I'd spend my money on.


Gizzle's Choice Tracks:
* The District Sleeps Alone Tonight
* Young Blood