Beautiful Lies is the third album to be released by singer-song writer Birdy. One of Birdy’s most famous tracks was her cover of Bon-Iver’s “Skinny Love”, an astounding debut single at the age of fifteen, her self-titled album Birdy also featuring well known track “People Help The People”. The album introduced Birdy as an emotive, vulnerable and unique vocalist.
Her second album Fire Within was an even deeper album, it showed Birdy becoming more confident in her sound and individual vocal style, and brought us tracks such as “Wings”. Her most recent release Beautiful Lies however strikes a different tone to her past tracks, it is bold – ever more confident and more daring than her last.
The introducing track on this new album “Growing Pains” reflects the style of Lana Del Rey and illustrates a far more pop-focused sound with a drum driven track, and even at times, oriental style backing percussion and violin. “Shadow” is the second song on the album, and exemplifies Birdy’s incredible vocal range, and her distinctive falsetto. It also reintroduces us to the lullaby-like piano accompaniment Birdy is more known for.
Even from the first two songs alone, Beautiful Lies is showing us, that rather than using her usual stripped back approach, Birdy is presenting music that is considerably more layered and produced – creating a more mature sound. The following track is the lead single from the album: “Keeping Your Head Up“. The track features a more of a dance beat, but alongside layered harmonies and clapping. These are all features present in bands like Florence and the Machine, a style which also resonates throughout the rest of the album.
“Deep End” and “Lost It All” resemble some of Birdy’s older works, more simplistic – yet no less effective. The tracks show how Birdy’s emotive and gentle vocals make creating a ballad appear effortlessly easy. The tracks also expose a poetic vulnerability we remember from her previous works. The combination of piano and violin create a more atmospheric layering to the song, without overcomplicating the tracks and reducing their emotive effect.
Later songs on the album such as “Silhouette” and “Take My Heart” also express similar heartbreak and imagery. Although both are slightly weaker on the album, if this is the worst Birdy has to offer, one can only be impressed by the success of the album, especially considering its step away from her usual style.
One of my favourite tracks on the album is “Wild Horses“, an upbeat feel good track, with empowering lyrics “I will survive and be the one who’s stronger“. The track again exemplifies Birdy’s strength and confidence within her music, and her development as an artist as she has grown up in the industry.
Just over the half way mark on the album and we are given “Lifted“, a more experimental track by Birdy. The track features what could even be described as similar to the new-age Indian style which is then layered on top of a gentle beat. “Hear You Calling Me” in contrast perhaps does show some of Birdy’s youth, the track shows stronger pop vibes teamed with Birdy’s impressive falsetto. The track is followed by another personal highlight “Words“. The song is more stripped back, relying on piano and vocals to carry the melody, its subtle layers make it really easy listening.
From this point onwards, the album appears to slow down, with songs “Save Yourself“, “Unbroken” and title track “Beautiful Lies“. “Save Yourself” matches Birdy’s angelic vocal with a soft choir harmony as it gradually builds to its conclusion. The other tracks ensure Birdy’s haunting vocals are not forgotten and act like a lullaby to bring the album to an echoing close.
Beautiful Lies is a more diverse album than some of Birdy’s previous works. It displays both light and shade to Birdy’s style. The album emphasises a more mature sound, where Birdy steps out of her comfort zone into more pop-dominated territory. Mirroring the likes of Florence and the Machine and Lana Del Rey, Birdy takes a more upbeat dimension to her work, yet is able to incorporate emotive lyrics and haunting vocals into the mix with ease.
The album contrasts stripped back emotive tracks such as “Unbroken” and “Words” with more upbeat pop tracks “Wild Horses” and “Keeping Your Head Up”, not only showing Birdy’s varied ability, but also an insight into how she has developed as a singer-songwriter. Birdy’s Beautiful Lies is out now via Atlantic Records, purchase it on iTunes here.
Words by Becky Spear