Album Review: Laura Marling – I Speak Because I Can

By on Thursday, 11th February 2010 at 12:00 pm
 

Laura Marling is a 20-year old folk singer hailing from Hampshire. Admittedly, Marling is yet to have the full on mainstream success of other radio friendly indie-femme stars, but the pixie-like singer has never failed in being praised by underground fans, with her 2008 debut, ‘Alas I Cannot Swim’, even gaining a Mercury Prize nomination. This isn’t to say 2010 couldn’t be Marling’s year, especially when the likes of Mumford and Sons and Noah and the Whale are flinging folk back into people’s faces with renewed musical force (wow, alliteration!). So, equipped with a little more years to her name, and a new hair colour to boot, Laura makes her anticipated return this coming March with second album, ‘I Speak Because I Can’.

Laura has certainly grown with the follow up to her kooky but fragile debut. ‘I Speak Because I Can’ is a noticeably maturer, 10-track album full of country folk influenced tales – rich and touching in places, but lacking vitality in other areas.

Laura’s voice in particular showcases a newly rounded, strengthened tone throughout the record, which actually surprised me (in a good way!) upon first listen. The album kicks off with the bluesy ‘Devil’s Spoke’ (view the video below that includes hints of Marcus Mumford’s chin). A psychedelic build-up leads into excitable barn dance-esque instrumentals, stomping drums and Marling’s toasty vox. A perfectly thrilling opener, which walks into the contrastingly sombre ‘Made by Maid’. Here, Laura merely sings above a humble acoustic – yet the contrast with the previous hearty track means this mouse-like number floats along quite pleasantly.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QirL0HXnyS4[/youtube]

Her country delivery continues to sway perfectly amid the banjo wails of the olde-worlde ‘Hope in the Air’, which projects an incredibly authentic, brooding folk sound. ‘Darkness Descends”s layered vocals, meanwhile, add a chirpier scope to the album, with the song ultimately leading into an explosion of banjos and dancing percussion which is certainly appreciated amongst the melancholic speed of the rest of the album.

Two further favourites on the album include ‘Rambling Man’, which showcases Marling’s Dylan stylee wail along with her angelic harmonies with a female backing singer, and the beautiful ‘Alpha Shallows’, which has an intriguingly Egyptian-like recurring hook.

There are a few down-time tracks among the album, however. ‘What He Wrote’, for example, may be a purposefully quaint little number, but, despite its emotional charge, the acoustic plink-plonks and soft vocals risk failing in capturing the listeners’ heart and ears. ‘Blackberry Stone’ similarly may display Marling’s delicate vocals mixed with sublime strings, but the gentle voice and dainty acoustic combo does start to grow a little juiceless compared to the more eclectic, quirky tracks amid the record.

Not to conclude on a bad note, though. Marling has certainly come-of-age with ‘I Speak Because I Can’; you only have to listen to the lyrics to hear the mass of experience she’s had along the road of the past 2 years. The album is clearly influenced a great-deal by traditional country folk, and therefore possesses a particularly nostalgic sound at times that yes, some may put down as lack of innovation, but I put it down to embracing rich, musical brilliance. Of course, like most albums, there are a few number of tracks which may kick up a tiny yawn in the listener, but the majority of Marling’s upcoming record is a dalliance with ardently charming sounds.

‘I Speak Because I Can’, Laura Marling’s sophomore album-length offering, will be released in the UK on 22 March by EMI. Regular CD and special CD+DVD versions of the album can be preordered from Amazon.

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2 Responses

4:58 pm
12th February 2010

[…] Laura Marling–”I Speak Because I Can”–We’re glad you do. Can’t wait for this album. (There Goes The Fear) […]

[…] promos she’s done for her current album ‘I Speak Because I Can’ (reviewed on TGTF here) she is a brunette. Come to think of it, this change in hair colour actually made her more human […]

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