by Mark Jackson
What do you do next as a 30 year old multi-award winning, critically acclaimed musician – the current genre defining talent and driving advocate of modern folk music, with an impressive six title solo back catalogue and an exciting collaborative release already to your name?
The answer, for the intriguingly unique and wonderfully talented Laura Marling, is to tear up the blueprints and dream it all up again. Following the tour of 2017’s excellent celebration of femininity, Semper Femina, Marling ditched her label and management, wrote the feature song for Robert Icke’s West End play, Mary Stuart, released an album with her new band LUMP, and graduated with a master’s degree in psychoanalysis. The result is that Laura Marling, while keeping all of the masterful charm, ever evolving intellect and song craft of previous releases, has pushed the boundaries of her own songwriting.
Song For Our Daughter is another masterstroke in the already enchanting development of one of British music’s most mesmerising talents, and provides a shift in identity that Marling was aiming for in its curation. Fearful of becoming the ‘writer that will write the same book over and over again’, she has consciously liberated her songwriting from her own preconceived expectations. An album created for the first time while not touring other work, Marling reports a greater feeling of serenity than ever before. Residing with her sister in their London home, and citing a ‘functioning long term relationship’, the stability Marling now feels has perhaps helped her seize control of many of the creative aspects of the albums curation, including taking co-production credits with the previously employed Ethan Jones (Ryan Adams, Kings of Leon, Rufus Wainwright), while utilising her own basement studio to lead the process.
Stand out track, Blow by Blow, reveals perhaps most dramatically the change in musical identity provided by Marling who ditches her trusty guitar entirely, revealing instead a piano ballad of perhaps even greater aesthetic beauty to that which fans are already accustomed. The similarly outstanding title track, Song for Our Daughter, benefits as throughout by the sweeping string arrangements of Rob Moose (The National, Antony and the Johnsons, Bon Iver), and instils an uncontrollable craving for repeated listens. While Held Down and The End of The Affair are also highlights on a record that feels as if every song that passes becomes a new favourite.
Many musicians will be looking on with envy as Marling once more shifts the goal posts and shows herself as one of the pre-eminent leads in modern songwriting.
Secret Meeting score: 90
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