On her third album, Beautiful Lies, Birdy (born Jasmine van der Bogaerde) continues her evolution from acoustic covers singer to confident and powerful artist. When she had her breakout "Skinny Love" moment at the age of 14, her vulnerable voice and stripped-down acoustics conveyed a fragility and innocence indicative of the indie material she covered on her self-titled debut. While her sophomore effort (and first comprising original songs) bolstered her sound with livelier production -- harnessing the energy of OneRepublic, whose Ryan Tedder co-wrote a pair of tracks -- Beautiful Lies brings a depth that pulls Birdy from Ingrid Michaelson territory and into a scene occupied by Lorde, Florence, and Lana. On the lush opener "Growing Pains," she incorporates East Asian-influenced melody into a swelling, powerful chorus that echoes the aforementioned Del Rey with a little Kate Bush sprinkled on top. That refreshing quirkiness is also present on the wistful "Silhouette," which includes a surprising flourish that wouldn't be out of place on a Joanna Newsom or Regina Spektor track. Beautiful Lies' most uplifting moments, such as the full-throttle "Keeping Your Head Up" and the urgent "Wild Horses," provide touches of elevation and empowerment, similar to much of Foxes' 2016 release, All I Need. One such highlight, the beautiful "Hear You Calling," infuses the album with a power only previously hinted at on prior works. There is also a nice balance to Beautiful Lies that creates a fuller, more satisfying listening experience. Midtempo breathers like "Shadow" and "Words" comfort, while the atmospherics on "Take My Heart" and "Save Yourself" haunt like ballads by Vaults or Bat for Lashes. While Birdy is indeed growing up (she was 19 at the time of release), nods to her origins are present on the piano ballads "Lost It All," the soothing "Unbroken," and the closing title track, a sparse beauty that ends Beautiful Lies with a kiss goodbye. "Turn out the light, there are no more surprises to come," she sings, as the album takes its last breath. With more life, richer texture, and an inspiring attitude, Beautiful Lies is Birdy's declaration that she is more than able to make her mark in the big leagues and join the ranks of the alternative pop pantheon.
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AllMusic Review by Neil Z. Yeung