I Speak Because I Can - Laura Marling Album Review
Laura Marling is exceptionally talented, not only for someone so young (she has just entered her second decade), but in terms of the bigger picture singer songwriters. 'I Speak Because I Can' is her second album release, her first 'Alas, I Cannot Swim', was a firm favourite with me when it was released in 2008. This album marks a step away from her debut and exposes her talents on a far higher level. This album focuses on Marling's hauntingly beautiful vocal range, which sounds like the ghost of Sandy Denny (and a very welcome ghost it is as Denny was lost to us all far too early in life) - so thank you Laura for summoning at least some of Denny in what you do!
The album itself is folky but explores this new breed of hip-folk music (folk for the kids as it were - I have seen a lot of other pre-30s folk music - from the great Wheeler Street to The Boy Who Trapped The Sun - all of which is a welcome alternative to the awful commercial music which is currently sullying the charts). Opening track, 'Devil's Spoke' starts slowly with bird noises and distorted guitar, but then suddenly your ears are embraced by Marling's marvellous folk vocals - and then the song just kicks off and it is very hard to stay still and not give in to the urge to jig about. The rhythm is addictive! 'Made By Maid' takes the pace down, and hints of the connection I mentioned about to Sandy Denny (this could quite happily slip into a Fairport album) - the focus is on the vocal and the vocal shines - I dare you not to be in love with Marling by track 2!
'Rambling Man' is another slower track, with sees Marling using her husky voice to keep you very much interested in the superb music. 'Blackberry Stone' is possibly my favourite track of the first half of this album, a song of learning, or not learning - and a broken relationship (a theme close to the heart of all folk music). Track 5, 'Alpha Shallows', is very different to all others (in fact, all the songs are clearly unique entities - a fact clear to the listener on the very first listen), and tells a good old-fashioned folk story which is accompanied by lavishly produced music and vocals. 'Goodbye England (Covered In Snow)' is my favourite track on the album, without a shadow of a doubt - and very apt for this April Fools Day as a significant part of the country seems to be bathed in snow. This song is a veritable opus and again explores the themes of love, for both the country and a relationship (at least this is how I take it). As I listen to this the hairs on my neck stand up and I am totally trapped by Marling's voice.
'Hope In The Air', 'What He Wrote' and Darkness Descends' are all great tracks and cover the second half of this super album but they are not as immediate as those tracks seen on the opening half (maybe on further listens I will decide I love this half - I get the feeling a lot of these tracks are growers!).
The closing track, 'I Speak Because I Can', is another tale of a broken relationship but with Marling's voice resounding over the speakers you feel a great sense of hope (both for the song and for the great talents of this amazing artist). The song builds and builds and is the most folk/rock on the record - and it is a great way of closing this remarkable work of art.
Laura Marling is only 20. This has made me feel extraordinarily old, and has pretty much ruined my day - fact. Her voice truly betrays her, and is astonishingly polished and world wise for a soul so very very young. Her talent is boundless and enthralling, and this new album is a testament to her song writing abilities and wonderful prowess as a truly great female singer songwriter. Laura Marling is the keyword on music fans lips at the moment and not without very good reason, expect to see great things from this great talent!
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