Song of the Day: 'Skinny Love' by Birdy

When it comes to covers, they can go two ways. In one instance the cover can be an almost exact reproduction with the only difference being the addition of a new vocalist. The other option being an alternative take on the original, either by stripping it down to an acoustic set or re-arranging it into a much different sound, perhaps adding more instrumental elements, creating a grander sound.

British songstress Birdy opted to go with the stripping down route for her version of indie folk staple Bon Iver’s Skinny Love from his 2007 debut album For Emma, Forever Ago. Birdy carved something really special out with her version. Her haunting vocals and the exquisitely bare backing of a solo piano; bring the essentials of the song to the forefront.

She brings a depth of emotion to it. She doesn’t just sing it. She performs it. Her vocals provide deeper insight into the meaning of the song, that of confusion and wanting answers to questions that seem left to never ending speculation. My interpretation of the song is that they have a “skinny love”, there’s no weight to it. The love has grown weary and is in a reflective stage.

There will always be debate over whose version of a song is better (original vs. cover) and if any cover artist can truly capture what the original artist intended, especially if the originator is the songwriter. Covers will always be valuable to me as a music lover.

They provide a different perspective. Sometimes we need someone from the outside to explore what we were too close to see. For me, Birdy digs deeper into the song and that earns the cover merit, in other words, she nails it.