Album: Laura Marling, Once I Was an Eagle (Virgin)
Saturday 25 May 2013
Marling's fourth album is tall galoshes against the rising tide of the most irritating industry norm going, the one that requires female singer-songwriters to ingratiate themselves with the attractiveness of their personality.
Once I Was an Eagle is challenging, cold-eyed, disdainful, unamusing. It is not winsome, charming or fun. Marling does not play ball. But what is the nature of her game? We know that she is young, talented, self-involved and produced by Ethan Johns to sound as if 1960s counter-culture America were in her like breath. Her references to, say, Joni Mitchell, Richie Havens and Bob Dylan vary in overtness but are always observably manifest because they are built into her sound. And when she goes off on one creatively, as she does with the elided first five songs (a slow crescendo of modal shifts and scrubbed guitars), the effort to transcend those references becomes the subject of what is heard, rather than Marling's poetry.
Which may, of course, be a good thing. The rest of the album is more conventional in its structure: intimate sketches of selfhood, eked out with rubato pickings and scrapings and biffs. It's often interesting but always achingly mannered.
Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigourfilm
Bannatyne leaves Dragon's DenTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Belgium fan Axelle Despiegelaere lands L'Oreal campaign after World Cup viral photo
- 2 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 3 Israel-Gaza conflict: ‘Sderot cinema’ image shows Israelis with popcorn and chairs 'cheering as missiles strike Palestinian targets'
- 4 Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
- 5 Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
Emergency data law: David Cameron plots to bring back snoopers’ charter
NUT strike: David Cameron announces crackdown on strike action ahead of mass industrial action