Listen: Ordinary sounds, extraordinary music

The Birthday Letters makes a simple guitar riff into a fascinating folk track.


Unless you’re already a world-beating popstar that can pretty much put out anything and watch it get adoringly consumed by eager fans, putting a simple melody and riff at the heart of a song is risky business. More often than not, a simple riff will lead many to dismiss a track as amateuristic, boring or generic.

Seemingly, The Birthday Letters was either never told this or simply thought that he would take on the challenge. In any case, new single The Real Thing is built around one very simple strummed guitar line that remains at the centre of the track for the duration of the song. Yet it seems that The Birthday Letters is the exception that proves the rule.

The guitar line is surrounded by fascinating extra instrument lines and effects that add an air of intrigue and distinction to the piece. The vocal has a Lo-Fi padding to it, while the spoken word samples used throughout the track offer up something very different to just another acoustic-led strumalong. As a result, The Real Thing becomes more aurally interesting, meaningful and enjoyable. The Birthday Letters has taken on the challenge and beat it.

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