On I Speak Because I Can, Laura Marling continues to demonstrate why she's such an exciting singer-songwriter.
It's full of songs which twist and turn as you listen: titles laden with foreboding such as "Darkness Descends" and "Devil's Spoke" end up rolling along with jaunty gait, their brisk momentum stippled with cheery banjo-picking, while a title as apparently positive as "Hope In The Air" ponders questions like "Why should death be scared of living?". Here, and in "Made By Maid" and "Rambling Man", Marling writes in the voice of traditional folk ballads, streaked with elements of reproach and revenge. The protagonist of "Hope In the Air", for instance, seems doomed in the manner found only in folk music: "There's hope in the air, and hope in the water, but no hope for me, your last serving daughter". But she also sings with precocious maturity on songs such as the title-track, "Blackberry Stone" and "Alpha Shallows", in which her disdain for superficiality rides an exultant thrum of dulcimer and guitar. Producer Ethan Johns has helped to broaden her musical approach, most effectively on the lovely "Goodbye England", where organ and strings accompany her hymn to an "England covered in snow".
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