English singer-songwriter Birdy has just released her sophomore album, Fire Within. Harry Guerin finds out if it's smoking (sorry).
Birdy's debut was one of the finds of 2011, a sublime collection of covers (The xx, The National, James Taylor) that showed the singer had an eerie power and presence far beyond her (then) 15 years. Now, at the cynical old age of 17, she's followed it up with an album where she has writing credits on every song and an expanded, masses-baiting sound.
The results are mixed.
It's a lot harder coming up with your own classics than cherry-picking other people's (no matter how much you reshape them) and Fire Within ranges from show-stoppers (Wings, Light Me Up) to filler balladry (the second half).
For the times when Birdy falls into the any-other-singer-songwriter trap, there's still enough here to prove she's one worth sticking with for the long haul.
These are, of course, very early days - let's hope the machine doesn't buff and polish the magic too much.