Jasmine van den Bogaerde, more commonly known as Birdy, has charmed listeners with her ethereal vocals and luminescent songwriting since the late 2000s. Through covering songs such as Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love” in 2011 and writing music for films such as “The Hunger Games,” the 24-year-old musician’s discography has made its mark on popular culture and the indie-folk genre.
Her latest album, Young Heart, released April 30, shows the artist at her most vulnerable. It’s been five years since the release of her previous album, Beautiful Lies, a discernible gap that emphasizes Birdy’s growth as a musician. Grieving the end of a relationship, the young artist presents self-discovery and loss in authentic yet harrowing ways. While staying true to her alternative sound, Birdy’s introspection on Young Heart embraces simple instrumentation to accompany her thoughtful, emotionally evocative lyrics.
Opening with an instrumental track entitled “The Witching Hour – Intro,” Birdy demonstrates the power of simple instrumentation in evoking emotion. Twinkling piano notes usher in a dreamy sense of tranquility, inviting listeners to breathe and fully envelop themselves into the hauntingly relatable themes the album will later present.
Chirping birds bridge this introduction to the next song on the album, “Voyager.” Implementing sounds reminiscent of springtime afternoons, the song is both natural and elegant. Yet, the lyrics are pensive and reflective in their depiction of leaving a past relationship behind. The chorus suggests a retreat to independence and newfound freedom: “I won’t wait for you, I’m already gone/ Like moonlight leaves with the dawn.” Light, calming instrumentation allows for Birdy’s voice to shine, reinforcing the power and depth of her lyrics.
Themes of isolation are intertwined throughout the album; songs such as “Loneliness” and “Deepest Lonely” reiterate the good that often emerges from time spent alone. “Deepest Lonely” particularly personifies the comforting presence of isolation, while echoing the darkness that often protrudes moments spent in solitude.
Young Heart is perhaps most candid in its conversations surrounding heartbreak. “Evergreen” exhibits the infatuation that persists within romantic relationships, a direct contrast to the 13th track of Young Heart, “Little Blue,” in which the termination of a relationship disrupts a romanticized perception of the world and instead leads to self-destruction and feelings of regret. Birdy speaks directly to her own sadness, telling herself, “Little Blue, in you is where those memories live on.” Directly opposing “Evergreen,” “Little Blue” displays the natural course of grief that follows a breakup and the fear that comes with leaving this sadness behind.
Through each of the 16 tracks that make up Young Heart, Birdy presents deep questions posed at the universe and nature. These moments are the most poignant on the album, as listeners are forced to reconcile with the pressures of living and learning their unique place within the world. “River Song” unfolds a thought-provoking narrative in which the artist speaks to a river to gain insight surrounding the meaning of humankind. The lyrics beg the question: “Is the future like the past?/ Do we shine a temporary glow, or are we built to last?”
These questions prominently make up the latter half of Young Heart, directly showing the ways in which the artist has grown in her hiatus from writing music. The titular song on the album portrays this retreat from one’s past self and the promise for future growth and change. “Young Heart” encompasses the album’s purpose — change, growth and introspection may have to be done in isolation. Arguably one of the most powerful songs in Birdy’s entire discography, the song demonstrates the power of her lyricism and the emotional themes that tie together the entire album.
Young Heart shines as one of Birdy’s greatest works. With maturity and care, her lyrics present heart-wrenching emotion with honesty and strength. With gorgeous instrumentation and fantastic lyrical depth, Young Heart proves that, as she grows as an artist, Birdy will only continue to improve upon her craft and write music that will speak to listeners in profound ways.