Album Review: Laura Marling – ‘Once I Was An Eagle’


In-keeping with her six-syllable album titling, England’s queen of authentic acoustic readily returns with her fourth studio album in five years. From A Creature I Don’t Know, Marling returns minus the larger, folky sound that seemingly elevated her previous effort out of the one-girl-one-guitar pigeon-hole and into the hearts of the mainstream.

Her latest effort is equally as charming, but with a sharper precocity; the first four tracks running into one another, a short story within a longer novel; from the disarming ease of ‘Take The Night Off’ through to the end of ‘Breathe’, all of which ebb and flow from gently picked melodies into brashy cello heavy intervals.  A story seemingly brimming with the Marling-personal I, and the thinly veiled impersonal story-telling of old is stripped off and lets you into a world of a complex love.

Her subtle and somewhat sexy ferocity seeps out of her nature-ridden lyricism, interrogations of creatures; her “free wheeling troubadour” as she digs through the debris of a broken relationship.

‘Interlude’ breaks up the lengthy album and her eye shifts onto a character, Rosie, and questions her throughout the soft beauty of ‘Where Can I Go?’. Whether or not Rosie reflects herself, only Marling knows, but the open indicting of the character sounds almost rhetorical; a song of self-questioning and confusion, a theme that trails on throughout the second half of the record.

The album climaxes in the instrument sodden, wherein the loose ends are tied together, a finale of realisation; “You weren’t my curse, Thank you naivety, for saving me again, He was my next verse”.

Once I Was An Eagle shakes off any hint of twee and relieves her of the polished-folk label that stuck to her like a bad smell, and instead explores her deviant wordsmithery and silver-dipped deft melodies into an album of carefully extracted Joni Mitchell-like experience and recollection.

Adam Keyworth

…Adam is listening to Bastille – Bad Blood



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