Laura Marling – Semper Femina Review 

Semper Femina has two meanings: originally, on Roman poet Virgil’s account, it means “woman is always fickle and changeable.” Or, it could translate to the meaning addressed through Laura Marling’s tattoo – “always woman.” This is the route followed in her sixth album under this title; an album using female perspective as its focal point, unstitching conversations of friendships and relationships, and illuming the world of a twenty-first-century woman.

The album’s opening track is Soothing. Not only does this name embody the feel of this whole album, as each quiet song seamlessly lapses into the next, it is also the most instrumentally sound track. Its majestic instrumentalism serves to emphasise the delicate folky tones of Marling’s vocals. Having said that, the track mostly surrounds such instrumentalism, the deep bass driving graceful synths. It’s an interesting addition, especially as it precedes a track that nods towards fine, Ben Howard-esque instrumental support. This song is The Valley, one simple in its guitar picks but strong in its lyrics. It underpins psychological understanding; Laura knows “what she’s [her friend] mourning…can’t be spoke”, dealing eloquently with feelings and friendship, highlighting the resilient feminine message the album aims to put across. The song blossoms with orchestra and the acoustic is given extra verve later in the track. It’s beautifully layered and wise, and a huge asset to the tracklist. The same togetherness is adopted in the following earthy number Wild Fire, and also in Wild Once later on, while tracks like Don’t Pass Me By, Always This Way and Nothing, Not Nearly enclose lyrics to a more self-reflective effect. Nothing, Not Nearly explores love in a great way, stating “nothing matters more than love”. This, alongside the previous Nouel’s homemade authenticity, gives a strength and security that concludes the whole album brilliantly. Though the tender guitars can get too repetitive, the fantastic morale of this album cannot be ignored.

You can tell Laura Marling put her heart and soul into this album. It’s both sturdy and vulnerable, intimate and relevant to so many listeners. It’s an incredible statement.

Laura Marling – Semper Femina: 8/10

Eleanor Chivers

This Weeks Music Video with Beyoncé, Lana Del Rey, The Weeknd, Laura Marling, Little Dragon, Spoon, ZHU and NAO

Single Review – Laura Marling – Wild Fire

Building up to the March release of sixth studio album Semper Femina, Laura Marling shared her second insightful single Wild Fire: a layered tale encompassing surficial notes of relationship expectations with blurred discussions of appearance. Beginning as an earthy stream of consciousness, the track is conversational – almost therapeutic – in the way Marling deciphers the love interest’s issues, adding a comfort that is assisted by a simplistic, warm acoustic backing. Soon, what appears to be assurance for the song’s muse blossoms to become a therapy session for its narrator. Marling sings of the woman writing a book, only having interest in what she writes about “the time spent with me”, dying to know how her character comes across. The lyrics meander between the turbulence the song’s prime subject faces, but also Marling’s own, and, strangely, in this mismatch of issues, a balance is formed. The two sides prop each other up, and the prevailing atmosphere of authentic friendship blooms. This folky exploration of what is typically Laura Marling is heartfelt both lyrically and instrumentally.

Eleanor Chivers

Single Review – Laura Marling – Soothing 

One of the most talented and enigmatic songwriters this island has to offer has announced her sixth studio album Semper Femina, due for release early next year. Laura Marling has always drawn from introspection and it seems that this latest album would draw on similar themes of broken romance and its aftermath. That is the theme for ‘Soothing’ to a large extent, yet she still meanders these themes with imaginative and intriguing imagery. The music that delivers this imagery is recorded in perfect isolation, as if there is a 10,000 ft drop off the end of each pluck of the guitar. What carries you between them is Laura’s earthy vocals which stretch and bend hauntingly as the song goes on. A simple track which does quite a lot.

Owen Riddle 

This Weeks Music Video with Beyoncé, The XX, Anhoni, Laura Marling, Tove Lo, OK GO and White Lies

This Week’s Music Video with Blur, Morrissey, Beck, Laura Marling, Sia, Lykke Li, Hot Chip and Best Coast

Laura Marling – Short Movie Review

Laura Marling Announces New Album Short Movie, Shares Animated Video for Title Track

Laura Marling’s latest self-produced album, Short Movie, has a defiant edge which is making people talk. The record is somewhat different from her previous offerings; more complex and seemingly more mature, demanding listen after listen as you attempt to figure out her intentions whilst fully appreciating her song-writing talents.

In Short Movie Marling swaps her acoustic for an electric guitar in many tracks, which represents a shift away from the standard folk sound which she is so heavily associated with. There’s no doubt that Marling will always be known as one of the key players in the folk revival of recent years, but in Short Movie she truly modernises her sound and demonstrates that her musical abilities cover more than just folk. The tracks on Short Movie have more layers and textures than her previous albums which have been a little more simplistic. Whether it be soaring strings in the background, insistent, fast-paced percussion or Marling using her voice to capture the emotion of song, there is more to listen to than just a girl and her guitar. Throughout this album she demonstrates her impressive range, alternating between high, girlish falsetto and a deep, velvety hum which has the ability to creep over you and almost give you goosebumps.

The defiance comes not only with the larger, louder sound that comes with her electric, layered tracks; it can be seen in her lyrics, too, which are often sarcastic and somewhat cynical. “Strange”, for instance, sees Marling commenting on what could be a man who seeks love from someone besides his wife and children; “Do your best to be a good man, Do you know how hard that is?” She speaks rather than sings, and seems to hold back a contemptuous laugh at the end of each line that makes you want to laugh along with her. On “Don’t Let Me Bring You Down”, Marling states “I’m a woman now, would you believe?” This line is perhaps a hark back to the way in which her rise to fame happened at such a young age. At 16 Marling was causing a stir in the nu-folk scene in London, and at 18 years of age she released her first studio album. Five albums later, and with a stack of nominations and two awards under her belt, Marling is now a superstar in both Europe and the US; she has grown up and so has her music, and her defiance throughout Short Movie demands that we listen and take note of what she has learnt along the way.

Laura Marling – Short Movie = 8/10

Ellie Scott @elliemaryscott

Mercury Prize 2013 – An Evaluation

It’s pretty difficult to say as always who will be the winner of the 2013 Mercury Prize and I’m not about to make any definitive predictions about it either. However, personally I’d be pretty happy to see Savages win the prize this time around. They may not be the popular or the obvious choice but they made a very bold and prominent statement both musically and lyrically and stylistically with Silence Yourself which I thoroughly enjoyed when I looked at it earlier in the year. I find it hard to see Rudimental winning it while Disclosure and Jon Hopkins are in the contest too. Between the three, the latter two are far more imaginative and creative while Rudimental fall more into basic song structures and vocals that do work but look primitive next to Disclosure and Hopkins. The same can be said when comparing Jake Bugg and Arctic Monkeys. Jakes debut was fantastic but The Monkeys are at the peak of their career and have produced an album in AM that has been refined at it’s core and much more considered in musical structure and textures, even if they may be a populist vote. But they have won it before of course so that may work against them. If Jake is a folk musician then Laura Marling would also be a step ahead for the basic reasons of being more knowledgeable and experienced and producing more thought provoking work with Once I Was An Eagle.  James Blake has produced such a soulful album with a raw atmospheric quality to it but Laura Mvula has created a much more novel and unusual album in comparison to him and she is being hailed as a possible favourite. Using this train of thought then Villages would also be pushed back. Foals have done well with Holy Fire to create an interesting and developed sound while keeping it catchy and rhythmic too. They can certainly by-pass some nominees without a problem. Then that just leaves Bowie. Though his shock comeback was a massive and very welcome surprise, it doesn’t hold up against McCartney’s efforts and therefore shouldn’t do so against most of the nominees. Nothing Bowie does is ever of a poor standard but it does seem that he has been placed there on the circumstances of his album rather than its content.