Review: Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle



You’d be hard pushed to find a more prominent folk musician in the British music industry than Laura Marling, and she has long since been the leading light for contemporary independent musicians. Perhaps Mumford & Sons is her biggest rival, but then we have to remind ourselves that even they began as her backing band. She is the girl with the golden touch and the girl that is bringing folk music back into the public eye, making it look cool, and giving it back its rock and roll spirit. So, of course her new album is going to be good, and because we have been waiting since A Creature I Don’t Know for it to come out, we’re just going to be thankful that she is still making music for us. So, after all that, I, for one, was relieved that it was excellent.

Once I Was An Eagle made me feel quite genuinely nervous to listen to, and I had to prepare myself for potential disappointment when having an early listen to the most hotly anticipated album in modern folk. Opening track Take The Night Off was quite a surprise as I had been led to believe from previous albums and leaked teasers that it would be an album with a more energetic, dancey vibe – and I was looking forward to that – but as the album began I found myself helplessly entranced by that effortless, charming control of her voice on the slower songs. The first few songs deliver such nonchalant beauty that I was left having no idea which way the album could go, and with a whopping 16 songs, it is a collection that is full of twists and turns. The first half, up until the haunting Interlude, is full of all the savage romance that we’ve come to know of Laura, but with a relieving maturity, which lets the heart-melting I Was An Eagle and You Know melt seamlessly into the powerfully primal Master Hunter.

And it is her wonderful seamlessness that makes this such a brilliant album. Each song seems perfectly crafted, and though some stand out in their raw force more than others, there is no hint of any filler material. Each song is like a cog which fits perfectly into place in this fully oiled machine. It is definitely safe to say that her albums so far have had quite a distinct sound to them, and it isn’t difficult to place any random Laura Marling song into its place in her timeline, and Once I Was An Eagle is no different. She doesn’t seem to write songs, she writes herself as she is evolving through a turbulent, but powerful and independent womanhood, and songs such as Where Can I Go? and When Were You Happy (And How Long Has That Been) sound as if they have leaked straight from her soul rather than been written as songs. It feels like she has finally settled into the style she was always heading towards, and in that she has created a piece of timeless art.

I’m sure the perfection of this album comes as no surprise to you all, and we all certainly expected nothing less, but her hard work and incredible writing should not be taken lightly. This album, more than anything, is a true labour of love and proof that Laura Marling consistently throws herself fully into each record. Tracks such as Undine and Devil’s Resting Place show her intelligent, mythical lyricism and it is apparent that her need to create innovative and captivating folk music burns as strongly as ever.

So the queen of contemporary folk has proven that she doesn’t intend to give up her throne anytime soon. Once I Was An Eagle is Laura Marling at her very best, and  at just 23, she’s sure to keep breaking hearts and inspiring the new generation of singer-songwriters.

Josh King



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