Having being nominated twice in the last two years for the ‘Best Female’ Brit award (one which she won in 2011) and always flirting around the Mercury music prize shortlist can songstress Laura Marling keeps this up? Well, she is back with her fourth studio album Once I was an Eagle and it’s proving another dark folk classic, mixing whimsical sounds with heartfelt gritty lyrics and keeps her impeccable record of impeccable records going.
Take The Night Off is a perfect example of this fantastic lyricist at work as she walks us around her follys in love with delicacy and care, with lifts and falls that wrench and pull this album starts how it means to go on. Marling shows her maturity throughout this album and most notably in her vocals as she tries to detach herself from her fragile image.
This continues with title track I was an Eagle as with a growl of experience she describes her lover as a dove and her an eagle as Marling displays her very own talons.
“I will not be a victim of romance, I will not be a victim of circumstance, or any man who can get his dirty little hands on me.” – I was an Eagle
As a sixteen track album you would expect an LP full of love songs and heartache would begin to grate and wear your heartstrings down. However, Marling’s songwriting skills are so vast she keeps you encapsulated with every song as the emotion pours out of her veracious vocals.
Master Hunter changes the pace of the album and being the only single released so far, brings a slight country edge and a jaunty guitar that fuels the soul and pleases the feet. Marling even starts to sound like Johnny Cash with a snarl and cigarette ash vocals, as she gets angry and spits lyrics with disdain. She even duels with Dylan’s It Ain’t Me Babe halfway through the song. Any modern lyricist would be beyond happy to be likened to Dylan and with this album Marling is proving she can pit her wits against any folk aritist past or present.
With Devil’s Resting Place the album starts to take on a more masculine sound with tribal drums and a little more mocksy to the guitar. Her flitting between modern folk and more puritanical style gives the album a lot of depth and Marling possesess the skills to take us from the mythological Undine and the organ filled heavenly track of Once to the dark city streets of When were you Happy? (and How Long Has That Been).
Saved These Words is the last track of this album filled with poetic nuance and musically astute tracks and is a welcome cuddle of a song with light guitar and as ever big pounding drums set of by a brilliantly charming vocal performance.
“Thank You naivety for failing me again” – Saved These Words
Laura Marling then is seemingly continuing to grow as not only a person but a song writer and more profoundly as a lyricist as she continues to describe ordinary life in extraordinary, heartfelt detail. She manages to span the sexes with her crass tongue and pounding drums. The album as a whole is somewhat a modern folk masterpiece but the real evidence of a proficient song writer is that each of these tracks stands alone but melts together when played through.
However clever and sincere her lyrics, however tribal the drums and however much she mixes the past and present of true folk music, Laura Marling’s biggest asset is her voice. It can rise and fall and has the ability to make you cry, laugh but most notably with her soft tones and delicate comfort she can sing you to sleep. What a dream.
By Jack Whatley