Birdy: Young Heart – London singer leaves her heart in Laurel Canyon

It’s too long and too in thrall to Blue-era Joni Mitchell, but there’s much to like here

Young Heart
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Artist: Birdy
Genre: Singer / Songwriter
Label: Atlantic

She may have a young heart, but in many ways Birdy (aka Jasmine Lucilla Elizabeth Jennifer van den Bogaerde) has already proven her status as an old soul. The Londoner first came to prominence at the age of 14 via her cover of Bon Iver’s Skinny Love. Still only 24, she has already endured the ups and downs of the music industry and is now four albums deep.

This collection comes after a gap of five years, during which she spent time in India and California, and presumably did a hell of a lot of growing up in the interim. California most audibly colours these heartache-addled songs, which Birdy freely admits are influenced by the Laurel Canyon sound of the 1970s and, most notably, Joni Mitchell’s Blue album.

Mitchell’s strummed acoustic guitar, simple piano arrangements and immaculate, quivering vocal is aped a little too audaciously, as heard on the easygoing folk-pop of Voyager and Evergreen. Others, such as the string-supplemented River Song, recall acts such as Nick Drake. Elsewhere, songs such as Loneliness and the excellent Celestial Dancers take a more contemporary pop approach.

At times, Birdy’s lyrical themes of finding herself and overcoming heartache are a little overdone and, at 15 tracks, Young Heart is too long-winded for its own good. Even so, there is a lot to like here, and it seems that Birdy’s best work is not too far ahead of her.