Birdy's 'Fire Within': Solid fare from music's youngest gem
Birdy's "Fire Within" makes for easy listening with songs as light and charming as her namesake. But it falters due to a lack of confidence.
Among the promising crop of girl musicians with substance is Birdy, the 17-year-old songbird from the UK, who you might recognise from her single People Love the People.
Birdy's sophomore offering Fire Within continues her indie style of thoughtful lyrics, soaring, Coldplay-esque melodies, and fragile reflections on love and relationships.
Wings is the album's first single, and draws heavily on co-writer and One Republic frontman Ryan Tedde's experience of creating songs for big acts such as Maroon 5 and Leona Lewis. While it's a solid single, it comes across as a little formulaic. In fact, one can't help thinking it sounds almost exactly like One Republic's Stop and Stare.
One of the standout tracks is Light Me Up, a feel-good, inspirational hit that will have you belting along in your car. It is the only song composed solely by Birdy, and is arguably the best.
Birdy shows her vocal range in Heart of Gold, and although she's no big diva like Adele, her voice is unique enough to pull it off.
Words as Weapons is a minimal, folksy gem, interspersed with violins and Birdy's staple use of the piano.
Strange Birds perfectly captures self-contempt and longing with the lines: "I want to be heard/ my wounded wings still beating/ you've always loved the stranger inside me, ugly pretty."
No Angel is an emotive tale about broken love, made all the more intimate by Birdy using only her voice and the piano.
Unfortunately, the songs that are not saved by charm or good lyrics come off as a little dull. Birdy's fragility at times reads as purely morose, and she is not an experienced enough musician to carry it off.
The fact is, her youth shows. Birdy is still pretty green, and her music lacks the punch and durability to be sure-fire classics.
However, Fire Within is by no means a loss; it's a beautiful, introspective offering by an artist with a great deal of potential.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Standouts: Light me up, Strange birds
Skip it: All you never say, Maybe