Album Review: Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle

Laura Marling released her debut album, Alas, I Cannot Swim, at the budding age of 18. A whimsical folk album, reminiscent of Joni Mitchell, she carved her fame out of the British folk revival. Fast forward five years, and you’ll find a far departure has occurred within her musical style. Not quite so optimistic, and far more breathtaking, Once I Was An Eagle displays Marling’s maturity and development as an artist.


Recorded in a mere ten days, with only one take per vocals and guitar, Once I Was An Eagle was released by Ribbon Music. Marling’s voice has changed since she began her career, finding a lower vocal quality that can develop as one leaves adolescence. Her guitar work conveys an aggression that has not been heard on previous works, rehashing past, or possibly fictional, relationships.


Produced by Ethan Johns, the album was recorded without the help of a band, but just the efforts of himself, Marling, and cellist Ruth de Turberville. The sparse guitar, cello, and occasional percussion, is often overlaid with a Indian Ragas, richening the texture of Marling’s sound.


“Devil’s Resting Place”, the concluding piece of the melancholy half of the album, is emotional, haunting, and nearly frantic.  The listener can feel the protagonist reaching some form of finality. The “Interlude” follows, a completely instrumental piece, shifting the record’s focus.


The second half of the record is more bright and hopeful, rounding out the vague storyline. “Pray For Me” exhibits Marling’s effortless melodic lines over optimistic arrangements. Questions that were asked in early tracks are answered lyrically during this piece.


Once I Was An Eagle deserves your time. It can be found at Amazon or iTunes.


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