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Music / Laura Marling

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Laura and her denim jacket.
You’re described as folk artist Laura Marling. Is that a fair label?
"I think it’s fair. I don’t think it’s accurate. I would have to say that I prefer folk to singer/songwriter or acoustic. I think folk comes with a more palatable image than acoustic. But I’m sure there are some traditional folk musicians that aren’t so happy with me having the label."
Describe Laura Marling here.

Just not as a singer/songwriter.
Or a folk artist.
Or an acoustic artist.

Laura Beatrice Marling (born 1 February 1990) is an English singer-songwriter noted for serious talent. She released five critically acclaimed albums at the age of 25. When she was 16, she released a few songs on her MySpace profile (remember that?), and began touring. Around a year later, she had a debut EP ready to go, but she then signed with Virgin Records, and Alas I Cannot Swim came in 2008. This record was more poppy, earning comparisons to Regina Spektor and Martha Wainwright, and merely a hint of the music to come.

Two years later, she released I Speak Because I Can, which was far more critically acclaimed than her first album. This album, produced by Ethan Johns, was more slick and had a Darker and Edgier feel. Like her first album, it was nominated for the Mercury Prize. In 2011, she released A Creature I Don't Know, with Ethan Johns again at the helm. This album gave her more comparisons to Joni Mitchell, one of Marling's heroes.

Her next album Once I Was An Eagle was released in May 2013. It was 16 tracks long, beginning with a medley of four songs. With this one, Laura Marling outgrew the Mumfords and the Whales critics used to compared her to, and truly came into her own as one of the greatest modern songwriters.

In March 2015, after a year of soul-searching in which she briefly worked in jobs other than music, she came back with Short Movie. This is a much more uptempo affair than the dour Once I Was An Eagle, where she displays a sense of humor not always seen in the last few albums.

Then, in 2017, she came back with an album titled Semper Femina, or "always a woman". Femina explores sexuality and gender in a way that Marling hasn't before, with the help of Blake Mills. She also takes on a more soulful sound.

Discography with singles:

  • 2008 - Alas I Cannot Swim
    • "Ghosts"
    • "Cross Your Fingers"
    • "Night Terror"
    • She was also featured on the Mystery Jets single "Young Love" in this year.
  • 2010 - I Speak Because I Can
    • "Goodbye England (Covered in Snow)"
    • "Devil's Spoke"
    • "Rambling Man"
  • 2011 - A Creature I Don't Know
    • "Sophia"
    • "All My Rage"
  • 2012 - "To Be a Woman" (record store day single)
  • 2013 - Once I Was An Eagle
    • "Where Can I Go'"
    • "Master Hunter"
  • 2015 - Short Movie
    • "Short Movie"
    • "False Hope"
    • "I Feel Your Love"
    • "Strange"
  • 2017 - Semper Femina
    • "Soothing"
    • "Wild Fire"
  • 2020 - Song for Our Daughter
    • "Held Down"

Laura Marling provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Big Budget Beef-Up: Between Alas I Cannot Swim and I Speak Because I Can, the production is a bit more polished.
    • Again with Short Movie— the production is much slicker than it was with the previous album.
  • Darker and Edgier: Happens quite a bit between Alas and Speak.
    • The Beast from "A Creature" might be one of the darkest songs she's done.
    • At last inverted with Short Movie. The sound is much brighter, and Laura's lyrics are much more free-flowing than ever before. Played straight with the "director's cut" of "Warrior" and "I Feel Your Love".
    • Shifts again between Short Movie and Semper Femina.
  • God Is Flawed: "If he made me in his image then he's a failure too."
    • Pretty much all of her stuff deals with this at some point.
  • New Sound Albums: Laura's somewhat famous for shifting genres from album to album, or even within the same album - A Creature I Don't Know in particular can go from jazz to Velvet Underground-esque rock on a whim.
  • I Am Very British: She speaks and sings in RP (slightly Estuary-tinged Moderate RP, but RP nonetheless). Of course, one would expect nothing less from the daughter of a baronet born in Berkshire. It makes for a rather interesting contrast when she sings with other artists (in particular, the contrast between her voice and William Rees's middle-class London Estuary on the Mystery Jets' "Young Love" adds an extra Uptown Girl dimension to the lyrics).
  • I Know You Know I Know: You know, you know, he knows, he knows, something, about me, that I don't want him to know...
    • Taken to its extreme in I Know, the third track of the 16 minute medley off "Eagle"
  • Intercourse with You: On really, really rare occasions, she uses this trope. Most obvious are "Devil's Spoke" and "I Was Just a Card".
    • To a certain extent, "The Beast" could also count.
    • "Soothing".
  • I Don't Know Mortal Kombat: She applied to a poetry institute in upstate New York during the drifting period that inspired Short Movie and got rejected.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Even though "New Romantic" averts this, the way Laura sings about it makes it sound so much more complicated.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Played with; "Master Hunter" winks at Bob Dylan's "It Ain't Me Babe", and Dylan is one of Marling's heroes and a point of comparison for many a critic.
    • From "Wild Fire":
      You always say you love me most
      When I don’t know I’m being seen
      Well, maybe someday when God takes me away
      I’ll understand what the fuck that means.
  • Precision F-Strike: Once an album.
  • Silly Love Songs: "Ghosts", "Tap at My Window", and... yeah, that's pretty much it.
    • If you want a stretch,"I Was Just A Card."
    • "I Feel Your Love" averts this, despite its title.
  • Shout-Out: She references a line from Bob Dylan's "It Ain't Me, Babe" in Master Hunter off Eagle.
    • She gets an insanely creepy shout out in Beans on Toasts' song "I Fancy Laura Marling."
  • Sanity Slippage Song: "All My Rage" could be interpreted as this, due to the almost unsettling carefree nature of the song after the previous 10 somewhat depressing tracks.
  • Took a Level in Badass: At least one song on every album since her first, she has a darker more intense tone: Speak has Devil's Spoke & Alpha Shallows, Creature has The Beast, Eagle has Master Hunter, Short Movie has "False Hope"/"Don't Let Me Bring You Down", and Semper Femina has "Soothing".