Album review: Laura Marling – Song For Our Daughter

Laura Marling album review

Laura Marling album review - Credit: Archant

Seventh solo album from the enchanting songsmith is yet another unassuming masterpiece

The artist who burst onto the nu-folk scene a fresh-faced, eloquent 18-year-old is now a worldly 30-year-old, a Grammy-nominated north Londoner who’s set up a studio in the basement of the home she shares with her boyfriend and sister, and carves out precious me-time by taking the bus to the British Library.

In the three years since Semper Femina, Marling recorded and toured an album as a duo with Mike Lindsay from Tunng, and enrolled in a masters degree in psychoanalysis. These collective experiences inform Song For Our Daughter, which leans towards new narrative storytelling over confessional songwriting.

Her wondrously darting, fluttering vocal – soaring yet intimate – is now accompanied by lusher string arrangements and her own, multi-tracked vocals.

As both a piece of art and the latest chapter in Marling’s enduring quest to understand what it is to be a woman in today’s world, it is exceptional.

“Love is a sickness cured by time / I hope that you can change my mind” she swoons in Only The Strong, amidst wondrously tactile fingerpicked guitar and a swooning troupe of gossamer Marlings as backing singers.

Piano and strings underline the poetic lyricism of a touching, devastatingly raw conversation between mother and daughter in Blow By Blow – to these ears at least, the aftermath of a violent relationship that’s perhaps this decade’s answer to Tracy Chapman’s Behind The Wall.

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The title track is a lilting letter from mother to daughter; essentially a reflection on the fragility of innocence, it’s full of parental hope, fear, wisdom and faith, Marling yearning to arm ‘The Girl’ against those who would take her innocence prematurely – and painting an uplifting picture of strength and independence.

Strange Girl is a welcome injection of tropical beach-side drums and strummed guitar – an infatuated blast of almost carefree, motherly love with a heart-warming, singalong earworm of a chorus. But her considered intensity quickly returns; evocative slide guitar and moody bass are brought to bear on the reflective, wounded but redemptive Hope We Meet Again (“I tried to share the map with you, but you knew your way, you had your route”), while heart-breaking first-person love song The End Of The Affair unfurls over gloaming atmospherics, ethereal backing vocals and gently-plucked guitar.

This is an unassuming masterpiece, a wonderfully deep record that will stand the test of time.

5/5 stars