Laura Marling has become one of the most prolific song writers in the past decade, renowned for changing her style with each record. This month sees the release of her sixth full length Semper Femina.
Like most of her music to date, there is an obvious folk vibe throughout, but this album sees her pushing her vocals barriers in many directions. Wild Fire and Always This Way contain a more country-soul aesthetic, using heavy vibrato in her voice and drawing comparison to Norah Jones. Don’t Pass Me By maintains this deep western atmosphere with gritty electric guitars, and closer Nothing, Not Nearly has the fast vocal delivery of alternative singer Sharon Van Etten, matched with slide guitar and soft choir oohs.
Nouel, on the other hand, enters Joni Mitchell territory with beautiful fingerpicking patterns and opener Soothing has a dark hypnotic feel, thanks to some harmonising double bass lines which repeat.
Vocally, Marling takes a clear British stance in The Valley and Wild Once. Both revolve around cleanly picked acoustic guitars, and warm strings which allow her to speak plaintively “I was wild once, and I can’t forget it”. These tracks have a bright spring-like feel, placing her in the realm of Julia Holter, highlighting the diversity within the album tracklisting.
Semper Femina might not be as thematically defined as its predecessors, and is unlikely to gain Marling a much wider audience. However, it does show the 27-year-old pushing her own boundaries, which at times can be compelling.
Edited by Ginny Wong