In times of darkness, the light that shines through that can be so dramatic it knocks you for six. Momentary bliss provided by a good will gesture; art; music; a meme of a puppy; whatever, can be so impactful it becomes utterly entrenched within the mind. Interferences from today’s unravelling streams of nonesenseness could not be more welcome. Distractions, gifts, call them what we may – the truth is that the need for the arts, for soul soothing, is heightened right now and Laura Marling has come up with the goods.
Song For Our Daughter may well be the best Laura Marling record we have heard. Deliciously wise and earthy, yet more rounded and melodic than some of her more recent previous works, the album is sumptuous, comforting, enchanting. The album sings of an artist who after time, introspection and searching, has found contentment. Song For Our Daughter creates a feeling of peace within the listener that can only have trickled down from the artist themselves. As a Marling fan it is a comforting notion.
This record is the first that Marling has written while not on the road. There is something about this feeling of settledness that chimes extraordinarily well with listeners at this moment of turbulence. To think that the release date has been brought forward four months, the timing of this album could not be more impeccable. Indeed, as we take a reprieve from our hyper stimulated lives, it is possible that listeners will hear something in this record that they may have missed had it not been released during this period of enforced slow down.
In the wake of 2017’s Semper Femina, Laura Marling took a step back from her solo career, collaborating with the theatre director Robert Icke for ‘Mary Stuart’ and formed LUMP with fellow musician Mike Lindsay from the band Tunng. This creative reset found Marling a new approach to creating music – she has explained she was in danger of ‘boring herself’ and ‘writing the same book over and over’. Marling has been quietly re-energised and the results are electrifying.
Song For Our Daughter is teeming with flair and finesse. Marling’s fascinations with womanhood and romance are laced throughout the record. ‘Stay alone, keep brave, I love you my strange girl” Marling sings in the sunny and upbeat ‘Strange Girl’. ‘Held Down’ is a hazy ode to much of her former work but with a production level we have rarely seen. Opening track ‘Alexandra’ is a nod to Leonard Cohen’s ‘Alexandra Leaving’. Marling asks “I need to know, where did Alexandra go… I had to try, a fuck to give, why should I die so you can live”.
On ‘Blow By Blow’, Marling steps away from the guitar and conjures a more Joni Mitchell inspired sound performing on the piano. It is in this track that the development of her sense of self and womanhood becomes most acute. Laura has said of her work that there has been an “enduring quest to understand what it is to be a woman in this society… How would I guide my daughter, arm her and prepare her for life and all of its nuance?”.
“Lately I’ve been thinking about our daughter growing old, all of the bullshit that she might be told”, Marling sings in the title track. “Your clothes on the floor, taking advice from some old boring bore, you’ll ask yourself, did I want this at all”. The magnificence of this song is something that must be heard to be appreciated.
“I thank a God I’ve never met, I’ve never loved I’ve never wanted, for you”, Laura sings in ‘For You’, the closing track on the album. “Now that I have you, I will never forget what a miracle you are”. This blissful sentiment could be said from the listener to Marling herself in thanks for this impossibly rich record. Her talent is almost unbearable at points.
Marling’s response to the crisis that her fans are facing, not only in bringing the release of her album forward but also in creating ‘live’ Instagram guitar tutorials for her fans, is refreshing and humbling. This record will provide endless release for fans. The depth created by Song For Our Daughter is the most welcome vacuum for listeners to fall into. It is a momentary light that we will always remember.