by Cherie, contributing writer and editor
Much has been made over the course of her career about the fact that Laura Marling seems to project wisdom beyond her years. She may only be twenty-three years old but with the release of her fourth studio album, Once I Was an Eagle, Marling once again proves that she is a force to be reckoned with. Her latest album explores the concepts of love, innocence, and naivete, but it a more profound way then any of her contemporaries. The album is broken up into two distinct acts, separated by the hauntingly beautiful “Interlude.” “Interlude” is a brilliantly executed instrumental track that serves to break up the darkness of the first half of the album from the more optimistic second half.
The first track of the album, “Take the Night Off” is not a stand alone track; rather it is the first song in a medley. It starts out simple, just Marling and an acoustic guitar but builds in volume and passion with other instruments adding to the rising sound. Marling debuted and perfected the four tracks that make up the medley during her live sets, so starting the medley off with just an acoustic guitar was a natural choice. The individual tracks that make up the medley (“Take the Night Off”, “I Was an Eagle”, “You Know”, and “Breathe”) vary in tone, tempo, and lyrical content, but the basic melody runs through all four, helping to seamlessly transition from one song to another. The medley makes up the first sixteen minutes of the album, but Marling executes the concept with ease creating four distinct songs that could stand alone but flow together with ease.
Not only does Marling write her own music, but she performs it live as well. Nor is she content to play simple chord progressions and melodies. Little Love Caster opens up with a stunning Spanish guitar solo that showcases Marling’s ever growing talent. Throughout the course of the album various instruments come and go, with only the guitar and Marling’s vocals acting as a constant. At times the other instruments appear to disappear completely, leaving the listener alone with Marling and her guitar. Its an intimate sound and these are the moments when the album truly shines. Her vocals, which were distinct enough to get her signed to a record label at the age of seventeen, have only improved over time. Perhaps its her recent move to LA but Marling seems to have adopted a husky, disaffected drawl at times which is at odds with her distinctly British background. Its not hard to see why so many critics are calling Once I Was an Eagle a musical masterpiece. I look forward to hearing what else the talented Marling comes up with next.