It’s been five years since the release of her last album, so Birdy wasn't going to let a touch of writer's block stop her from creating her most personal record yet. With her fourth studio album, Young Heart, Birdy has crafted her most personal body of work to date. She reveals why creating a heartbreak record has been her most difficult but rewarding project yet, and how she has made loneliness her ally.
A five year gap between albums may sound like a long interval, but for Birdy, taking time to stop, experience the world and find out who she really is was a necessary circuit break.
Home to the greatest heartache songs ever written, visiting Nashville had a profound effect on the Lymington-born singer, and drawing from artists like Joni Mitchell and Nick Drake, she became consumed with the idea of the tussle between the vastness of space and the interior of home, and the conflict between wanting to hide away and feeling compelled to leave.
Soon the world will be able to hear the results in her upcoming album, Young Heart.
Reflecting on Birdy’s many achievements, (discovered at the age of just 12 years old, she has amassed over 1.6 billion streams worldwide, 1 billion YouTube views, 7.1 million monthly Spotify listeners and boasts 4.7 million album sales to date, not to mention she has written songs for The Hunger Games, Disney Pixar’s Brave, The Fault in Our Stars and The Edge of Seventeen), it’s easy to forget that she is only 24 years old.
Somehow, she is exactly how I expected her to sound on the phone: well spoken (she’s got the kind of British accent that makes Americans swoon), polite and introspective – Birdy is a deep thinker through and through. Catching her in between studio sessions in West London, she admits that the last year has been a strange one, but that she managed to finish off the new album just before the pandemic hit.
“We had finished everything, but then [the pandemic] gave us time to reflect and listen to it all. I ended up redoing a few bits in a little makeshift studio in a cupboard at my grandpa's cottage where I was staying, so it was quite interesting,” she says brightly.
Bursting onto the scene in 2011, her debut single – a cover version of Bon Iver's Skinny Love – charted across Europe and earned platinum certification six times in Australia. Her self-titled debut album, Birdy, followed that year to similar success, peaking at number one in Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands. Two further hugely successful albums followed before she was 20, which she admits feels quite strange to reflect on.
“It feels like another life almost, because so much stuff was all packed into six or seven years,” she recalls. “And then I was away for five years. It's just so weird thinking of all the things I did because at the time I was so young; I kind of didn't really know what was happening a lot of the time! It was just really exciting. I’d be touring and I would hear the songs on the radio for the first time. It was hard to believe it was happening. I think it's only now that I can really take it in properly.”