|Laura Marling||Semper Femina (2 LP)|
Laura Marling — Semper Femina (10 March 2017)Ψ• On album six, the singular British folk talent overthrows conventional portrayals of women.
Ψ• Semper Femina is Laura Marling’s sixth studio album. It was largely written on the road, following the release of Laura’s acclaimed album, Short Movie, in spring 2015. Its loose lyrical thread strings together her keen, freshly observed take on womanhood, and what Laura describes as a particularly ‘masculine time in her life’.
Ψ• It is a record that similarly addresses questions of how society views sexuality and gender but without seeking to provide definitive answers. It retains an openness to express and portray her own ‘voyage’ of self~discovery, but also to develop and learn as artist, performer, and as an individual over the course of her career.
Ψ• A rich and enriching listen, Semper Femina is a typically mature and raw record by one of our most talented and prolific young musicians of a generation.Birth name: Laura Beatrice Marling
Born: 1 February 1990, Berkshire, England
Origin: Eversley, Hampshire, England
Instruments: Vocals guitar bass piano ukulele
Album release: March 10, 2017
Record Label: Kobalt/More Alarming
1 Soothing 4:17
2 The Valley 5:41
3 Wild Fire [Explicit] 4:51
4 Don’t Pass Me By 5:09
5 Always This Way 4:33
6 Wild Once 4:23
7 Next Time 4:01
8 Nouel 4:53
9 Nothing, Not Nearly 4:32Credits:
Ψ• Artwork — lalobacreates.com
Ψ• Bass — Nick Pini
Ψ• Bass [Additional Bass] — Sebastian Steinberg (tracks: A1 to B5)
Ψ• Drums — Matt Ingram
Ψ• Drums [Additional Drums] — Matt Chamberlain (tracks: A1 to B5)
Ψ• Engineer, Mixed by — Greg Koller (tracks: A1 to B5)
Ψ• Guitar — Blake Mills (tracks: A1 to B5), Eddie Berman (tracks: C1 to D5), Pete Randall (tracks: A1 to B5)
Ψ• Mastered by — Matt Colton (tracks: C1 to D5), Pat Sullivan (tracks: A1 to B5)
Ψ• Mixed by — Dan Cox (tracks: C1 to D5)
Ψ• Producer — Blake Mills (tracks: A1 to B5)
Ψ• Strings, Arranged by [Strings And Arrangements] — Rob Moose (tracks: A1 to B5)
Ψ• Vocals, Guitar — Laura Marling
Ψ• Written by — Blake Mills (tracks: A1, C1), Laura Marling
℗ 2016 & © 2017 Laura Marling Under Exclusive License to Kobalt Label Services Ltd
Recorded at NRG Studios, Berkley Sound Studios Santa Monica and Randall Court Studios
Ψ• Engineered and mixed [...] at East West Studios
Ψ• Mastered [...] at Bernie Grundman
Ψ• All tracks written by Laura Marling (Kobalt Music Group Ltd / Ribbon Music) except ‘Soothing’ written by Laura Marling & Blake Mills (Kobalt Music Group Ltd / Ribbon Music & Copyright Control)
Notes: HMV exclusive 2CD edition with live version of ‘Semper Femina’.
Sticker: Limited Edition Vinyl with Exclusive Bonus Content of Live Album Tracks. Download Card Included
Ψ• Recorded at Martyrs, Chicago 3855 N Lincoln Ave, Chaicago, IL 60613, United States
Ψ• Mixed [...] @ Urchin Studios unit 1 The Laundry 2~18 Warburton Street London UK E8 3FN
Ψ• Mastered [...] @ Alchemy 10 Barb Mews, Brook Green, London, UK W67 PAReview
Larry Bartleet. 1:17 pm — Mar 7, 2017 | Score: *****
■ Six years ago, aged 21, Laura Marling had the smarty~pants Latin title of this album tattooed on her leg. By itself, “semper femina” means “always woman”, yet in its original context (ancient Roman poet Virgil’s Aeneid) it’s part of a warning that translates as “woman is always fickle and changeable”. Marling found the line funny — its author Virgil was, of course, a man — and in album six she subverts his perspective with a level of nuance that would probably have blown his mind.
■ This album deals in women’s perspectives of women — from close bonds (‘Nouel’, ‘Nothing Not Nearly’) to estranged ones (‘The Valley’, ‘Don’t Pass Me By’). Like virtually all of her writing to date, ‘Semper Femina’ has an intensely personal feel, but her elliptical lyrics continue to blur the line between Marling the person and Marling the persona. Does the ‘Soothing’ lyric “hopeless wanderer” refer to the song by her now~married ex, Marcus Mumford? Are this album’s dying friendships real or fictional?
■ It doesn’t really matter: what’s always shone brightest in Marling’s music is her Leonard Cohen~like acuity, and that shows no sign of abating here. In ‘The Valley’ — by some distance her most elegant work to date — she sighs: “I know she stayed in town last night / Didn’t get in touch / I know she has my number right / She can’t face seeing us”. Her Dylanesque speak-singing is back too, but it’s saved for just a few couplets in ‘Wild Once’, and here it radiates poise. As always, Marling’s maturity is a little bit scary.
■ Some things have changed, though. Marling has a new producer in Blake Mills (Conor Oberst, Sky Ferreira) and together they create a motley set of textures. ‘Always This Way’ delivers its rueful tale with a muted acoustic thrum; ‘Don’t Pass Me By’ ripples with glum reverberation; ‘Next Time’ hints at inner conflict with some somersaulting fretwork straight out of a bizarro Joanna Newsom composition. It all adds up to the most serene, stylistically varied album Marling has ever created — and that’s surely the point. “Fickle and changeable are you,” she smiles to a dear girlfriend on ‘Nouel’, “and long may that continue”. Hear that, Virgil? ■ http://www.nme.com/
by Max Pilley | first published: 8 Mar 2017 | Score: *****
■ Laura Marling has always presented herself as an assertive, free~spirited figure in her songwriting, and accordingly so much of the conversation around her career has been driven by the idea that she is a strong woman. On Semper Femina, her sixth album, she tackles the notion of a female artist having to deal with such categorisation.
■ The title is derived from a line from Virgil’s Aeneid, the whole of which translates as “a woman is an ever fickle and changeable thing”, and therein lies the record’s driving force. Marling writes here about women, and herself, as capable of being simultaneously tragic and inspiring, neither defined by male relationships nor free from the effect of masculinity.
■ The theme is most specifically explored on Nouel, named after a close friend of Marling’s since moving to Los Angeles over five years ago. “She’d like to be the kind of free a woman still can’t be alone,” she sings, before sensually describing her as she lies on her bed, citing Gustave Courbet’s explicitly erotic painting L’Origine du Monde as a comparison. This is not a lesbian fantasy, nor a pastiche of the male gaze, but a rare exploration of female friendship in song. She sings of Nouel lovingly and intimately without bowing to any suggested boundaries between sexual love and friendship.
■ The subject of 21st century femininity clearly animates Marling, who spent a chunk of the time since her last record making a podcast series exploring the role of female creativity in the music industry. She is not shy of turning the lens on herself either, as demonstrated by Wild Once. Singing in an almost comically English accent, she reflects that “I was wild once, and I can’t forget it, chasing stones”. She has stated that these songs grew out of a “masculine” period of her life, and this song seems to mark the genesis of that.
■ Musically, this is also one of Marling’s most intriguing albums to date. Lead single Soothing is propelled by strutting, block percussion and a melodic, twanging bassline. Strains of strings flush the climax of the song, whilst a distant electric guitar wails. Having produced previous album Silent Movie herself, this time the reins were handed to Blake Mills, who had previously sought her out. Don’t Pass Me By is driven by something resembling a drum machine loop, marking significant new territory in her back catalogue, whilst closing track Nothing Not Nearly provides a fittingly frenzied electric finale, drawing a type of Neil Young comparison that Marling has so far been unaccustomed to.
■ The track The Valley is a classically romantic composition, a throwback to a patchouli~drenched 1960s commune, with Marling singing of the newness that the morning dew brings, her low, mysterious register recalling Nico or Vashti Bunyan. The strings which are present throughout so much of the album thrive in their big moment, whilst a wash of multi~tracked backing vocals threaten to tip it into delirium. She’s never sounded closer to Nick Drake.
■ The following track, Wildfire, however, sees her finding a new voice. Starting out as the familiar no~BS folk troubadour, painting a character study that could come from I Speak Because I Can, the chorus hits and Marling proudly blossoms into an assured soul singer, complete with fluctuating, melismatic vocal. It is at once another step in the development of the figure that has been so beloved for nearly a decade and a complete bolt from the blue. It is one of Semper Femina’s standout tracks, and a career highlight.
■ She recently said that she is at her most sincere when she is singing, which has never felt more true: this album deals with femininity in a nuanced and honest manner, with Marling never hiding behind a façade of characters or dealing in over~familiar observations. Few songwriters, let alone any still in their mid~20s, are able to illuminate such complex material with this degree of insight and personal experience. What’s more, while Silent Movie felt like a minor departure, this record still manages to sound deeply connected to its predecessors. ■ http://www.musicomh.com/
Ψ• Alas, I Cannot Swim (2008)
Ψ• I Speak Because I Can (2010)
Ψ• A Creature I Don’t Know (2011)
Ψ• Once I Was an Eagle (2013)
Ψ• Short Movie (2015)
Ψ• Semper Femina (2017)_____________________________________________________________
|Laura Marling||Semper Femina|