We live, we continue to be told indefinitely. The processes have been canceled and you feel unstable and uncertain every day. Any hint of regularity – most importantly, what is nice – has become important. Enter Laura Marling’s seventh album, “A Song for Our Daughter.” The release is an unexpected surprise, new news. Through 10 airtight paths, meticulously folded and elegantly staged, this is an absolute triumph.
“In light of the changes in all our circumstances, I saw no reason to hold back what could at least entertain and at best give a sense of union,” Marling said of the decision to release the album ahead of schedule. This is a generous step – reflecting on fans of personal rewards. The recording seems like a love letter to Marling’s imaginary daughter, but – even more – she is addressed to another figure: “Girl,” as Marling calls her. The girl could be you, and she could be me; she is every woman listening. As Marling said, “it can be lost, prematurely torn away from innocence, or unwittingly crushed by forces that dominate society.”
Marling’s voice is as consoling and crystalline as ever, but this new release stems from a departure from her label and lead after the sixth semester 2017 album “Semper Femina” (meanwhile she began her master’s degree in psychoanalysis). This entry offers insightful storylines and melancholy. There is no banjo and little percussion to speak of. She is gentle and intelligent, humble and quite friendly.
“What happened to Alexandra?” asks Marling, opening the track on Alexander, immediately shifting the focus away from himself and moving on to the lone title character, another woman in need of care. The artist’s affection for Leonard Cohen is also there: a clear reference to Koger’s “Alexander Leaves,” but also a singer for deeply humane reflections in smoky, brooding vocals.
Over the years, Marling has always seemed wise, showcasing Johnny Mitchell and Bob Dylan’s shades, producing his own space – a place occupied by seven albums, three Mercury nominations and a Grammy nod (“Semper Femina” stand out for Best Folk Album). She ventures further into the future, writing with heartfelt clarity about neglect and heartbreak. In the ethereal and hypnotically repetitive “Held Down” she expresses to the bottom of her soul, “This is a hard leak that you leave so / Just lower my wrist and say, ‘Well, we’re done.’
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3ntm8jPDfU (/ embed)
Her lyrics have never been more elaborate, so you tend to think that even one word can go wrong. “Only Strong”, “End of Case” and “Strike by Strike” stand out with their soft power. In the latter, Marling admits, “I feel like a fool and you are so / because you believe it can happen / Like some things.” Her recognition of powerlessness is vivid and amazing. The instruments of this album have a sense of romance that unites love both true and lost – strings are heard here, steel guitars sore on the pedal.
The title track is seen as a bedtime story and a life lesson. The slow acoustic patchwork is created as the strings come in, reflecting their whole affection for the other person. “You won’t forget what you haven’t done yet,” she sings. it is an exquisite ode to those who make it alive in a relentless world. “We will meet again” sees her reflect on the past and boldly move forward. Some of the most stunning lines (“I tried to give you love and truth / but you are sour, toothy”) are intertwined with the loud sound of a pedal steel guitar and English backing vocals. It’s skilful.
The album closes modestly, with a demo and performance by Marling and her partner. “Thank God she never met, never loved, never wanted,” she sings. The track reaches more power, believing that we are okay.
“An album devoid of everything that is made of it by modernity and property is, in fact, part of me, and I would like you to have it,” said Marling about “My Daughter’s Song.” Album Seven is a work we are familiar with. It may be less phony than her previous work, more driven by life words than the beat, but it still feels cohesive and like a safe haven. The album is a balm, a Marling – a lifeline – and a source of stability. We were lucky to have her.
Release Date: April 10
Light plate: Chrysalis / Guerrilla Records