lauramarling

It’s almost impossible to think that Laura Marling is still only 24. A near constant name on BRIT and Mercury award shortlists over the past six years and now on the cusp of releasing her fifth album in only seven, she’s come to be an artist you can rely on; an ever present musical companion offering hushed spiritual counsel. With such a prodigious output though, it’s easy to see why she suffered burnout shortly after 2013’s ‘Once I Was An Eagle’. Used to doing things earlier than most, it was a kind of mid-life crisis a full 15 years ahead of schedule. Luckily though, it didn’t last long and new album ‘Short Movie’ was not shelved forever. With it we see Marling rediscover her love of music, shed any lingering anxieties and come out the other side with a new found stoicism.

Written and recorded while on a lengthy and uneasy sojourn in L.A., Marling has produced a quietly self-assured album while struggling to come to terms with America in all its immensity. Far removed from her rural Hampshire home, she sings of isolation in the sprawling metropolis and explores notions of identity. The aptly named opener ‘Warrior’ is a paean to anonymity within a crowd and the dehumanizing effect it can have. She sings: “I’m just a horse with no name/Somewhere there are some other beasts who think the same,” defiantly, blocking out the roar of the city – embodied here by a spiralling Faustian whirl of krautrock style reverb – and plucking away as she always has. For all the inner and outer turmoil though, we see an artist chiselling away at her aesthetic and emerging from the dust with her most bold and resolute effort yet.

Much could be made of the songs being written primarily on an electric rather than acoustic guitar, but really the song structures remain the same and the muted roar of the opening track is quickly banished as business resumes largely as usual. What is impressive, though, is the added poeticism and confidence in her vocals. ‘Don’t Let Me Bring You Down’ is delivered cock sure and faux-shambolically like a less grating Courtney Barnett, while ‘Strange’ draws on Allen Ginsberg and the Beats as literary inspiration. ‘Howl at The Moon’ continues the analogy of alienation in a gorgeously introspective electric lullaby, breathy and twinkling as it establishes communion with nature from the heart of the city. It provides the headspace necessary for the resolution reached in the album’s title track too: “It’s a short fucking movie, man”. It may be short but, thankfully, Marling still has a big part to play.

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