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Birdy - Fire Within


Rating: 7 / 10

Ed Power, 21 Oct 2013

The second album from blue-blooded Hampshire native Jasmine van den Bogaerde – aka 17-year-old piano basher and Burke’s Peerage entrant Birdy – raises a profound question: can you enjoy a piece of art knowing it has been ruthlessly machine-tooled by off-stage actors, in this case Birdy’s record label? Certainly, her back-room team leave little to chance on her first collection of original material, a follow-up to a 2011 covers record that found her delivering dulcetly unremarkable readings of Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, The xx and others. A who’s who of co-songwriters and producers have been brought on board, among them One Republic’s Ryan Tedder, Mumford and Sons’ Ben Lovett and Muse producer Rich Costey. To her credit, Birdy is never out-shadowed by her all-star team and despite the air of calculation which wafts through the record, her songwriting proves satisfyingly epic and at times genuinely touching – never more so than on the Tori Amos-does-Coldplay opener ‘Wings’, a cumulus-scraping soft rocker crying out for a stadium to reverberate around.

There are echoes of Florence and the Machine on ‘Heart Of Gold’ – or at least Flo if she’d let Simon Cowell chose her co-writer. But Birdy’s personality shines through – notably on the confessional ‘Words As Weapons’ and the Regina Spektor-ish ‘No Angel’ (nothing to do with Dido, if you were wondering). There are those who’ll malign Birdy as a ‘manufactured’ star? Who cares when, at just 17, you can make a record as powerfully impressive as Fire Within?

Key Track: 'Wings'

Rating: 7 / 10
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