Album: Laura Marling - Song for our Daughter
The introspective troubadour evokes the spirit of Joni Mitchell
Laura Marling has always loved to weave the textures of Seventies Laurel Canyon folk-rock into her music. Never before, though, has she evoked the spirit of David Crosby and Joni Mitchell quite like on her new record. From the opening strummed chords to the last hummed notes Song for our Daughter is full of Californian haze, making for a gorgeously contemplative experience.
Of course, Marling hasn't actually lived in LA for some years now, having returned to London in 2014. But her experiences living near the Hollywood Hills – and the life-lessons learned – undeniably underpin this whole record.
The title track, for instance, offers words of wisdom to an imaginary daughter who gets mixed up with seedy LA film-types. Elsewhere Marling's advice seems to be to her younger self. On "Alexandra" she references Leonard Cohen's "Alexandra Leaving" to deconstruct a bitter break up. This time, though, it's Alexandra who is the central character.
Such an emphasis on female identity will come as no surprise – after all the title of the singer's last solo album Semper Femina, translates to "always a woman". Similarly, Marling describes her new LP as forming part of her "enduring quest to understand what it is to be a woman in this society".
The ideas may sound a tad intellectual, but the music is pure emotion. "Strange Girl" is sunny and breezy, while "Held Down" has more of a lazy-afternoon vibe. On the more intimate tracks, like "Fortune", Marling showcases her skilfully plucked guitars and supple vocals. The album's highlight is "Blow by Blow" where Marling swaps her guitar for a piano. The results sound eerily like Joni Mitchell's "River", with crystal-clear vocals that turn the mournful tune into something of stirring beauty.
This bewitching mix of simplicity and depth is Song for Our Daughter in a nutshell. In these testing times, the album – released several weeks early – will surely give fans some soothing relief.