Vocalist, pianist sings like a ‘Birdy’

The enchanting voice of up-and-coming singer and pianist Birdy is wonderfully exposed in her self-titled, debut album.

Jasmine Van den Bogaerde, who goes by her long-time nickname Birdy, rose to recognition how millions of other musicians in this modern age have attempted: on YouTube.

The 15-year-old prodigy learned the piano at the age of seven, quickly mastering it and making up her own songs just a year later as an eight year old.

Birdy was beginning what has become a promising career in music. When she was 12 she uploaded a video of herself performing one of her own songs on YouTube and from that got a look from Warner Brother’s Records. What has resulted is Birdy’s first album, consisting of covers of songs that she describes as her influence.

“It’s just an introduction to my style,” the artist explains on her website, although “Without a Word,” which is one of her own songs, appears on the album as well.

The opening track is Birdy’s interpretation of Phoenix’s hit song “1901.” It softly starts with the defining sound of a grand piano and is backed by a smooth rhythm section that supplements the piano and the amazing voice of Birdy.

The tempo of this track is much slower than the original played by Phoenix, but none of the energy is lost, and in fact, with the sonic guitar riffs deeper into the song, might even be intensified. Upon this first impression, it is hard not to replay it before continuing into the album, but the following track might be the highlight of the entire composition.

Bon Iver fans should very much enjoy her version of “Skinny Love,” which is a great example of Birdy’s talent, both vocally and on the keys. As the song progresses, Birdy’s voice begins to heighten, exposing the depth and passion that resides within the young singer. It is an understatement to say she does the song justice when her official music video for the song on YouTube has received more than 20 million views.

Birdy reaches further into her alternative influences in her performance of The Postal Service’s “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight.” Originally, an electronic driven song, she is able to use her piano playing to add a sense of volume that is only matched by the elegance of her voice and the unique way in which she approaches the lyrics. The maturity in her vocal performance in this song makes it hard to believe that the person behind the microphone is only 15.

She matches the power of her voice with her ability to soften her vocals in “I’ll Never Forget You,” the song originally performed by Francis and The Lights. Only featuring her piano, voice and the addition of subtle effects, this track provides listeners with an example of Birdy’s raw emotion and justifies the majestic nature of her voice.

The one original song on the album conveys the best vocal performance that can be heard on it. “Without a Word” is an emotional powerhouse, featuring a piano coupled with some use of effects. But under Birdy’s vocals, both could go unheard due to the breadth and passion that she contains. It concludes with her emphatically singing the title phrase with such emotion  that it makes you want to re-play the last 30 seconds of the song over and over again.

In her debut album, Birdy rightfully asserts herself as a legitimate breakthrough performer alongside fellow UK artists such as Adele.

The comparison might seem like a stretch, but it becomes more reasonable the more you listen to her performances.

Birdy carries a bluesy, lengthy tone like that of the late, great vocal artist Eva Cassidy and is well on her way to obtaining the fame and recognition she deserves.

Listen for tracks from Birdy’s self-titled, debut album on the KSLC’s airwaves in the coming week.

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James Testa/
KSLC 90.3 FM
James Testa can be  reached at kslcmusic@gmail.com.

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