Young Heart

Young Heart

After the release of her third album Beautiful Lies in 2016, Birdy was craving some time out. “It’s been one thing after another—making records and then touring—since I was 14,” the British singer-songwriter, real name Jasmine van den Bogaerde, tells Apple Music. “I needed space.” The five years between that third record and her fourth, Young Heart, was “kind of like a gap year,” as Birdy puts it. Then there was the fact that a breakup had left her with a serious case of writer’s block. “It took such a long time to get to a place where I felt comfortable writing about those things, because a lot of them were too painful,” she says. Rediscovering the conversational songwriting of Joni Mitchell shifted something in her, and she eventually began work on her next musical move. Written and recorded in LA and Nashville just ahead of the UK’s first 2020 lockdown (and perfected during it, at the singer’s family home in South East England), Young Heart is a bare exploration of heartbreak from an artist still working out who she is; the theatrical sounds of Beautiful Lies are replaced with something altogether more delicate, as the singer embraces folk with a ’70s Laurel Canyon feel. And for all that writer’s block, it turns out there was quite a lot to say: This album’s 16 tracks document the ups and downs of calling time on a relationship, as Birdy contemplates and often celebrates her innate need to be alone. “The whole record has been quite difficult to start and finish,” admits the singer. “But I'm way more attached to this music than I've ever been. I feel really protective of it and passionate about it.” Read on as Birdy guides us through her raw fourth album, one track at a time. “The Witching Hour – Intro” “I originally wanted to call this album ‘The Witching Hour.’ For me, that hour is at 4 am, when I do a lot of writing. A lot of my music is inspired by classical music, because that's what I was brought up with. I wanted to show that side of me.” “Voyager” “This song is about that horrible time when you are going to leave someone but they don’t know it yet. This is one of the songs that I wrote in Nashville. It was the first time I met [US producers and songwriters] Daniel Tashian and Ian Fitchuk, and we were discovering the sound together. It was really exciting.” “Loneliness” “I've spent so much time over the years being quite solitary, in strange cities and weird hotel rooms. This is a love song to loneliness and feeling lost in a big city—and enjoying it. I wrote this song around the time of my third album, but I just didn’t feel attached to it. I took it to [Simian Mobile Disco member and producer] James Ford, who came up with this whole different feel for it. This time, it resonated.” “The Otherside” “This was a last-minute song that we wrote in Nashville. It makes a lot more sense to me now. Daniel, who I wrote it with, has said, ‘I think it makes sense now because we’re all going through this strange upside-down time and we’re going to come out the other side.’ Maybe that is about that. But I guess it’s about reassuring someone who’s going through a hard time that you're there for them. The track feels otherworldly.” “Surrender” “A lot of these songs are about conflict and fate. Have I made the right decision? Is this all for a reason? This record sounds different to what I’ve done before, and sticking to my guns was quite hard. So the song is also about the struggles of making those decisions by myself.” “Nobody Knows Me Like You Do” “Everyone who's gone through a breakup will know how, if you really love a person, it's hard to imagine your life without them or to imagine a time when you're not going to feel sad about it. It was the last one I recorded, because it took me so long to finish it. I just couldn’t get it right when we were in Nashville—maybe it was too emotional. In the end, my brother helped me record it in lockdown on my piano at home. It was really special.” “River Song” “This was based on the idea of a great old river that had been around for hundreds of years. The song is me talking to the river and asking it to share some of its wisdom. I wanted to have a bit at the end of this song where it breaks free, and so much of that was in the strings. This song starts off really calm, like this really beautiful little river going along, but by the end it's raging.” “Second Hand News” “This is about regret. After a breakup, you hear about the other person's life and they hear about yours. But it's always secondhand. When I wrote the chorus, it was quite a sweet little ballad, before I was thinking with this big voice. But it changed quite a lot when I sang it like that, and that’s when the lyrics came out properly. I wrote this with my friend Jonathan Wright, and we ended up using the demo recording. It was so passionate and in the moment, and I couldn’t do it again.” “Deepest Lonely” “‘Deepest Lonely’ is about escaping from everyone else. I'm very introverted and I really need that time to recharge. But there’s drama in this song. I am quite a stormy person—my brother calls me the Dark Cloud! It's about that side of me.” “Lighthouse” “At first I was worried that this song might be cheesy, because it’s so sweet. I had originally played it for piano, and when I changed it slightly on guitar, I fell in love with it. It’s about that invisible tie you have with someone you’ve been with for a long time. How sometimes you can just feel when they’re feeling a certain way and when they need help.” “Chopin Waltz in A Minor (Interlude)” “My mum taught me this piece, and it’s something I’ve always played. It's almost like a little tick—whenever I'm not doing anything, I just play it. One evening, Daniel happened to be recording and captured it. It felt right to include it.” “Evergreen” “This is written about another time, and brings joy to the record. It's about two people who are just completely wrapped up in each other and blind to the rest of the world. I wrote it in LA, and it was actually the first time I felt I'd met people who really understood what I was trying to make. I think this is my favorite on the record—everyone was playing in the room together, and it was captured exactly as we performed it. I think you can hear that.” “Little Blue” “I realized Joni Mitchell has a song called ‘Little Green’ on her Blue album and thought, ‘This is going to look like I’ve copied that.’ But it was completely by mistake. This song is about grief, and, to me, it’s probably the saddest song on the record. A breakup is close to grief, because you can’t talk to this person anymore—it’s like they’ve completely disappeared. It's also about not wanting to let go of the sadness. Because once you do, it means you've moved on.” “Celestial Dancers” “This song is quite a spiritual song for me. When I’m writing—and I’ve felt this since I was little—I do feel a connection to something. This is about asking that force, or whatever it is, questions and hoping for answers.” “New Moon” “This was written really late, and it’s about moving on. I love the message—that tomorrow, everything will feel different and you are going to recover from whatever you've been going through and you'll look back and feel really differently about it. It's a very uplifting, hopeful song.” “Young Heart” “The first song I wrote for the record. It took me three days to write it—I was not in a place to be writing songs, and I was just trying to keep myself together. I was listening to a lot of Nina Simone and Etta James at the beginning, which you can hear in the piano—it’s very soulful. This is a goodbye song. It’s about someone who is still changing and learning who they are. And sometimes you have to do that alone. It’s the most powerful song on the record, and it sums up the whole thing.”

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