|Laura Marling — Once I Was An Eagle |
Laura Marling — Once I Was An Eagle
Birthname: Laura Beatrice Marling
Born: February 01, 1990, Eversley, Hampshire, England
Instruments: Vocals, guitar, bass, piano, ukulele
Album release: May 27, 2013 / May 28 (US, Canada)
Recorded: 2012 at Third Crow Studio in Bath, England
Record Label: Ribbon Records
01. Take The Night Off (4:12)
02. I Was An Eagle (4:22)
03. You Know (2:31)
04. Breathe (5:01)
05. Master Hunter (3:16)
06. Little Love Caster (5:52)
07. Devil's Resting Place (3:15)
08. Interlude (2:16)
09. Undine (3:13)
10. Where Can I Go? (3:41)
11. Once (3:39)
12. Pray For Me (5:06)
13. When Were You Happy? (3:53)
14. Love Be Brave (3:04)
15. Litttle Bird (5:40)
16. Saved These Words (4:27)
¦ All songs written and composed by Laura Marling, except for "Interlude" by Ethan Johns.
• Laura Marling — voice, guitar
• Ruth de Turberville — cello
• Ethan Johns — drums
Producer: Ethan Johns
¦ Reception for 'Once I Was an Eagle' has so far been extremely positive, reviewers noting a major step forward in Marling's already precocious songwriting, and confirming that she is as talented as many of her singer/songwriter forbears such as Joni Mitchell. ¦ In a positive early review by NME, reviewer Matthew Horton concluded by writing "Plenty's made of Marling's precocity, but on first exposure 'Once I Was an Eagle' really does seem to be another astonishingly mature step forward. In 20 years she'll be celebrated as one of the greats – just be glad you could be here now." While a review in Uncut claimed that Once I Was an Eagle is "by some distance her best album."
¦ The two pre-released songs, "Where Can I Go?" and "Master Hunter" have both been received with critical acclaim, citing new directions for Marling, but all reviews agreeing that while she "tests" new sounds, it always has the familiar Marling feel.
¦ 'Once I Was an Eagle' received a very positive review from Clash Magazine, calling it a "beautiful achievement", and confirming that Marling can "sit side-by-side with PJ [Harvey], Joni [Mitchell] and Sandy [Denny]" as one of the "greatest singer-songwriters of both her generation and generations before it." The review concluded by saying that "Without doubt, this is one of the folk albums of the year." A positive review by the Irish Times said that "whether she is softly crooning over a plucked guitar or dabbling with organs and percussion for quietly cacophonous climaxes, Marling is never less than captivating." The website entirely dedicated to folk music, #folkgeek, gave 'Once I Was an Eagle' a glowing review saying "Brilliant and bold, Once I Was an Eagle easily tops the short list for Album of the Year contenders. For longtime Marling fans it will surely not disappoint, however Once… may just break Marling into the big time with more casual listeners (and, dare I say, the US market?). Truly spectacular – it is the must-have album of the year so far.", highlighting 'Breathe', 'Where Can I Go?', 'Once' and 'Saved These Words' as standout tracks, describing the latter as "Sheer bliss."
¦ Another extremely favourable review by Huffington Post concluded in saying that "England has a proud history of producing generation defining female singer-songwriters; the likes of Polly Harvey and Kate Bush can attest to that much — however in Laura Marling, we have an artist not only capable of carrying on that fabled mantle, but dare I say, improving upon it as she does so." and commended Ethan Johns and Marling for breaking the "'twee' shackles girls with guitars often find themselves bound by are again completely shattered, the vocal delivered more powerful, the guitar playing more intricate and lyricism ever more complete. It's often stated that good books help paint pictures in your mind's eye, and Marling's songs are no different, her wordplay at it's extremely vivid best."
¦ Laura Marling's new album, 'Once I Was An Eagle', the follow up to 2011's stand out 'A Creature I Don't Know', is a hugely ambitious album reflecting the poise and confidence of a songwriter far beyond her years (23). Recorded in the English countryside with longtime collaborator and producer Ethan Johns, the album's loose narrative traverses heartbreak, vulnerability, resurgence, confidence, and lastly contemplation. 'Once I Was An Eagle' steps farther outside the conventions of Laura's previous albums, an opportunity to fully explore her songwriting process while abandoning expectations.
¦ Très bon album (déjà le 4ème!) de la nouvelle jeune égérie du british folk. Recommandé.
By Laura Murphy (Editor rating: ****)
¦ Much of Laura Marling’s press has focused on her precocious talent, her ability to craft songs with a maturity unsurpassed by her peers, and a talent for phrasing that usually only comes with decades of experience. Four albums later and it’s becoming easier to disregard the subject of the Hampshire native’s age. (She’s 23, by the way.)
¦ That’s not to say that those qualities aren’t true of Marling today. Once I Was an Eagle cements the Los Angeles-domiciled songwriter as one of the best in the business. After the philosophical musings of A Creature I Don’t Know , Marling here tackles the thorny topic of love head-on.
¦ At first, they’re heavy with self-doubt and regret on the quivering Take the Night Off, Once I Was an Eagle and You Know . The latter’s references to a “freewheeling troubadour” are perhaps telling of her former dalliances with Marcus Mumford and Noah and the Whale’s Charlie Fink.
¦ The rollicking Americana of Master Hunter is comparatively defiant, both musically and lyrically (“If you want a woman who can call your name, it ain’t me, babe”), but there is salvation in recent love as the album progresses, particularly on the upbeat Love Be Brave (“ How does he make love seem so sweet? ”) and the vibrant flourish of closing track Saved These Words .
¦ Ethan Johns’s intimate production gives these songs an acutely personal tone, although he would have done well to suggest curtailing the 16 tracks to a more manageable and undiluted running time.
¦ Yet whether she is softly crooning over a plucked guitar or dabbling with organs and percussion for quietly cacophonous climaxes, Marling is never less than captivating.
¦ Comparisons with the greats – Mitchell, King et al – still shimmer in the ether, but they are becoming ever less pronounced.
Laura Marling biography:
¦ At the tail-end of the Summer, just before work began on her second album, Laura Marling sat down with producer Ethan Johns to discuss her ambitions for the record. She gave Johns just two instructions: "This is very much my stepping stone," she told him. "And this is England."
¦ I Speak Because I Can is indeed a coming of age, its 10 songs imbued with a richness and a ripeness and a sophistication. It is also an album marked by its quintessential Englishness. For all its American instrumentation, its shades of Crosby Stills and Nash, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, these songs are no pale Americana interpretation; rather they are tales of snow-covered England, of blackberries and cold noses, songs that are deeply rooted in place. It is as if in the months since we saw her last, Marling has sought out her own identity, and found herself to be thoroughly English, unapologetically female, and a fully-fledged musician in her own right.
¦ Marling was, after all, just 17 when her debut Alas, I Cannot Swim was released in the Winter of 2008. Alive with stories of past lovers, night terrors and hearts that tick away like hourglasses, Alas was an exceptional record, revealing Marling to be in possession of not only a voice that was pure and bright and uncommonly beautiful, but also a remarkable songwriting talent that belied her years. Its successor, recorded during Summer 2009 at Peter Gabriel's Real World studios near Bath and Eastcote Studios in London, revels in a new maturity, at points, Marling's voice sounds a little harder, a little world-wearied, alongside a lyrical bluntness, a thematic darkness, a realisation that, as Marling puts it: "I'm not good all the time, but I try to be."
¦ Marling, credits many of Johns' earlier records (among them Ray LaMontagne, Kings of Leon, Emmylou Harris, Sarabeth Tucek) with kindling her interest in music, had long admired his way of working, his use of reels, his quiet, traditional methods of production. Recorded live, I Speak Because I Can , Hero includes contributions from many of Marling's peers — among them Pete Roe, Marcus Mumford, Ted Dwane, Tom Fiddle and Winston Marshall, who provide a robust musical counterpoint to Marling's lyrical introspection. "As much as I love those boys, I'm not in control of them; they want to play fast and hard," she says. "But I think that's what's nice about the record: I have my bit of incredible self-indulgence and then they kick it back into real time."
¦ Perhaps it is a sign of Marling's growing maturity that there is a strand of womanliness that runs throughout this album: "I think it was feeling the weight of womanhood, or the greatness of it, coming to terms with it is something that I thought was quite interesting," she explains. She was inspired, she says, by "the changing role an idea of Women throughout history."
¦ Accordingly the album's penultimate track, the exquisite title track I Speak Because I Can, is in part rooted in the story of Penelope, the wife of Odysseus. She says "the idea of her waiting for him to come home, and the very old-fashioned sense of man and woman, and monogamy, that's quite amazing and truly fascinating. That is probably the most pretentious thing I can say about the album." In What He Wrote, we find a song inspired in part by a series of wartime love-letters and diary entries Marling saw published in a newspaper: "The writing that they did, I love that, the way their passion is expressed. And you could feel in their letters, a longing to be with each other." There was one diary passage in particular that stood out to Marling: "It was about letting him go, physically letting go, how you can't let go, and about turning to stone. And I suppose it's like what a break-up is — you just can't let go of it, no matter how much you want to. And I thought it was such a beautiful thing, as a metaphor for forgiveness, and letting go of things that you need to, or confronting things that you need to."
¦ Alongside these broader themes, I Speak Because I Can also addresses more intimate subjects; the intriguingly-named Alpha Shallows, for instance, Marling explains as "Kind of a codename, because this was kind of personal. And not that I don't write personally, it's just that I do it mostly at arm's length. I think when I wrote it I was worried that perhaps it was almost a bit too pathetic. ¦ And so in my diary I was referring to people as Alpha Shallows and stupid codenames and... God forbid anyone ever read my diary." She says she has "forgiven" her younger self for writing the more obviously personal songs that appeared on her first EPs and even her first album: "the first songs you write are always going to be about yourself. It's about finding the right balance of experience and turning that into something that's very much meaningful to you but not too blood guts and hearts."
¦ One of the album's undoubted highlights, however, is also one of its most intimate songs, Goodbye England, a rumination on love and independence and also a wistful tribute to the English countryside that seems to hinge upon the line: "And I never love England more than when covered in snow." "All of this album is a lot about my childhood," Marling says, "and I grew up in the countryside and you can hear a lot of the countryside in this album. I feel very English. And I obviously look bloody English. And I'm away on tour a lot and sometimes, especially in the Winter, I want to be at home, and I want to live in the house that I want to live in when I grow up, with a fireplace on a farm." She has, she says, a very vivid memory of walking near her childhood home up to the local church, "When I remember my Dad saying 'Please bring me back here before I die.' I was probably about 9 when he said this to me and I remember thinking 'What an horrific thing to say!'. But I hope I go back there before I die. I've got quite long roots in England, and because I grew up here, the beauty of England resonates with me more than any other kind of beauty. And I think that ends up defining you as a person, where you're from, and you can acclimatise to anything, but the wind of England shakes my bones."
¦ A couple of years ago, Marling recalls, she was gripped by a quite crippling fear of death, a subject that surfaces subtly throughout this record. "I don't think you ever get over that fear of death, but it was causing me panic attacks which became uncontrollable, so I had to face it," she explains. "With a fear of death comes a fear of insignificance, and I thought well, whatever happens I'm going to be ok because I've done some things. It's not about being something as in being famous; it's being something as in being something to someone. And for me, the idea of being something is actively doing something with your life that positively impacts other people. If you can make people's day a bit better. You don't have to fix their problems, but you just have to make them feel a little more secure."
¦ Marling's former relationships include Noah and the Whale singer/guitarist Charlie Fink, from whom she separated in 2008, and Marcus Mumford, from whom she separated in late 2010.
Marling relocated to Los Angeles, California, U.S. in 2013. In an interview with The Guardian, Marling explained that she believes that Americans are "a lot more poetic" and also provided an insight into her perspective on relationships:
¦ I sound awful saying it but I think it can be like that. I see a lot of people in unstimulating relationships. And not just boyfriend-girlfriend relationships. They find themselves in stagnant friendships. If people were a little less scared [of ending things] they'd get more out of life… You meet the right person at the right time and they fulfil a certain something in your life. You fulfil something in theirs. But there's a time limit to that. Unless you choose to be bloody good company for the rest of your life, do you know what I mean?
¦ Alas, I Cannot Swim (2008)
¦ I Speak Because I Can (2010)
¦ A Creature I Don't Know (2011)
¦ Once I Was an Eagle (2013)
Awards and nominations:
Year / Organisation / Nominated work / Award / Result
¤ Mercury Prize 2008 Alas, I Cannot Swim Mercury Prize Nominated
¤ Mercury Prize 2010 I Speak Because I Can Nominated
¤ RTÉ Radio 1 Album of the Year Nominated
¤ BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards "Rambling Man" Best Original Song Nominated
¤ Brit Awards Best British Female Won
¤ NME Awards Best Solo Artist Won
¤ Brit Awards Best British Female Nominated
¤ NME Awards Best Solo Artist Nominated
|Laura Marling — Once I Was An Eagle |