Track Review: Surrender // Birdy

After a five year wait, fans of Birdy can enjoy the first release from her fourth album, Young Heart. ‘Surrender’ doesn’t disappoint. It’s an enchanting return.

The singer-songwriter Jasmine van den Bogaerde is now 24-years-old. For over half her life, she’s performed music. Birdy, a family nickname stemming from a large gaping mouth she had when a baby, won UK talent contest OpenMicUK when 12. Yet it was her cover of Bon Iver’s ‘Skinny Love’ that propelled her into stardom aged 14.

Three albums and several movie soundtrack singles followed from 2011-2016, including for Hunger Games and The Fault In Our Stars. Since then, Birdy has travelled the world and raised a duck. Acoustic versions popped up increasingly on her YouTube channel during the pandemic, before she revealed a new album for 2021.

Birdy sent a signed piano key and a single line from ‘Surrender’ before its release to 87 fans. Her fellow writers for ‘Surrender’ were Ian Fitchuk and David Tashian. They’re both significant in the Nashville-centred US country music scene. As any Birdy fan knows, the artist specialises in indie-pop, very often has a piano base to her tracks and possesses astonishing vocal clarity.

‘Surrender’ plays to these traditional strengths but is also more emotionally intense than her last album, Beautiful Lies. Young Heart, to be released through Atlantic Records, promises to be “a tussle between light and dark”. ‘Surrender’ is a ballad, with Birdy musing in the lyrics on an ex she still longs for: “When all I want to do is fall / Into the night / Into your loving arms, surrender”.

She seeks to understand her emotions and reach a place of contentment through travel: “And if I could reach the Northern lights / Maybe then I’d understand it all”. Yet even this cannot stop her wanting to “surrender” to her feelings, nor distract her from them: “Delays on the District Line / Lookin’ at pictures on my phone / And I said I didn’t miss you, but I lied”.

A major appeal of Birdy’s tracks is their purity: pure voice, lyrics and tune. When she records outdoors, birds regularly join in because of the purity of her tracks and voice. ‘Surrender’ adds emotional rawness and simplicity to that quality.

In the music video, a close up Birdy sings to camera while curled up on a bed in a white vest. This is mixed with clips of her on a train and wandering half-dazed on St Leonard’s Beach, Sussex. The video symbolises the emotive rawness invested in ‘Surrender’ and the other tracks on her upcoming album, Young Heart. Speaking about that investment, she said:

This album means a lot to me—I want to protect it.

Birdy

‘Surrender’ is a track which really connected with this listener. Whether through her lyrical simplicity, the smooth tune of piano, acoustic guitar and an underlaying of drums, or her restrained yet ever mellifluous vocals. If the rest of Birdy’s upcoming album Young Heart is as beautiful to the ears as ‘Surrender’, hopefully she’ll gain the true level of acclaim she deserves.

Words by Ivan Morris Poxton


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