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Review: Birdy - Oslo, February 2016.

Review: Birdy - Oslo, February 2016.

Birdy's show at East London's Oslo marked both a triumphant debut for her new material, and a point of note along an unusual career trajectory. To be releasing a third solo album at the age of 19 is something most artists wouldn't even hope for. It's close to unthinkable that someone so young could forge a musical career so self-assured, yet we have seen Birdy move seamlessly from the covers that made her name to her own brand of delicately yearning folk.

The 13-song set was heavily balanced in favour of new material, with older songs scattered throughout. The result was an incredibly cohesive set, with covers such as 'People Help The People' (originally by Cherry Ghost) effortlessly slotted in the wake of brand new opener, 'Growing Pains'. Including the occasional older track also provided contrast, allowing the audience to see for themselves how far Birdy has come since her eponymous debut. 'Hear You Calling' plays with sampling in a way that would have been unthinkable on any of her 2011 tracks, yet now showcases a natural progression towards a more developed sound.

From the rolling snare of 'Deep End' to heartbreak ballad, 'Words', Birdy revealed a versatility to her voice, which her singles have previously failed to do justice. 'Save Yourself' built from a spacious, echoey beginning before crashing over the audience like a storm at sea, urging someone, somewhere, to “kill the love that's dying.” Birdy has always dealt in sadness, but this is a depth of darkness we have never seen her plumb before. It suits her. By contrast, current single 'Keeping Your Head Up' is almost too airy, its playful lyrical rhythms the key redeeming feature.

Birdy's sound is a tight, fresh take on a folk/rock/pop blend that manages to be interesting despite its apparent lack of novelty. Whilst innovation is not a key part of her brand, the inspiration she draws is from the best possible sources. Although usually keen to avoid comparisons, surely noting her vocal similarity to Kate Bush - particularly on plaintive title-track 'Beautiful Lies' - can only be taken as a compliment. The same goes for commenting on how reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac some of her more percussion-driven offerings appear.

As her cover of 'Skinny Love' brought the show to a close, I couldn't help but think that it's a shame that this is likely to be her pièce de résistance for the long haul. It's always hard when the success of a debut single overshadows the following career, even more so in this case, when the single in question was a cover. Anyone with a pretty voice can sing a Bon Iver track, but the stories that Birdy spins of her own have so much more to give.

Birdy's new album 'Beautiful Lies' will be released worldwide on March 25th. Click HERE to pre-order now on iTunes.

Watch the music video for 'Keeping Your Head Up'...

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