Imagine Pitchfork launching a teenage Susan Boyle, and you'll have a good idea of what Birdy sounds like. Instead of classic tracks from Les Mis and Depeche Mode, Birdy's raided the recent '00s indiepop archive for a clutch of unlikely songs on which to show off her rather lovely voice.
The reason for kicking off her career with a covers record is apparently to introduce us to her "style" while she finishes off her GCSEs. That style is loads of gently pounded piano with the sustain pedal slammed right to the floor, and a shimmering voice which twists and turns with such ease that even Adele would shoot envious daggers in her precocious direction.
Alongside songs from US alt acts Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, The Postal Service and The National, there's more from The Naked And Famous, Phoenix and, most strikingly, Bolton's Cherry Ghost. Some hit the mark more than others, but did she pick them herself? Is this a marketing man's cynical selection of songs to win over the hipsters and pop fans alike?
It really doesn't matter. These are some great tracks, getting pretty interpretations which seems win-win for new listeners and original artists alike. Whether or not she's got a crate full of coloured vinyl at home and a stack of archived copies of Spin is irrelevant. Unlike say, Templecloud's annoyingly inoffensive Embrace cover, it certainly sounds like Birdy means what she's singing, and that's the important thing.
Her take on Cherry Ghost's 'People Help The People' is the stand-out, and The Naked and Famous's 'Young Blood', The xx's 'Shelter' and The National's 'Terrible Love' aren't close behind. That's partly because of the quality of the original tracks, partly because the their basic arrangements best show off Birdy's USP. The sole self-penned track 'Without A Word' certainly isn't the most interesting thing here, but there's definitely enough promise here to warrant at least some of the hype.
Tracks to download: 'Skinny Love', 'People Help The People', 'Young Blood', 'Shelter'
If you like this, you'll like: Coldplay, Adele, PJ Harvey's White Chalk
Listen to a sampler of Birdy below: