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Laura Marling And Joni Mitchell: After Love

Now it is available on Spotify, I have been listening to Laura Marling’s “Where  Can I Go?” even more and hereby anoint it the equal best, with the waiting to released  “History” by Modern Hut” song of the year. Indeed, I think the two songs are better than anything I’ve heard since “Runaway” and “The Battle Of Hampton Road” in 2010.

Since “History” is yet to be released , I will refrain from discussing the metaphysical mysterious masterpiece for now and concentrate on Laura Marling. Joni  Mitchell once claimed she found it very rude to call somebody a “new” anything while the old one was still alive. Fair enough. But since 2011’s A Creature I Don’t Know, Laura has been following a path reminiscent of Mitchell from around 1969 to 1974.

This is particularly true of 23 year old Laura’s newest  song “Where Can I Go”,  a strange and lovely song which remains me esthetically if not ethically of Joni Mitchell’s “California”. Both are traveling songs. in the latter, Joni is in Paris and reading the paper about the US, it is 1971 and it is all protest and war and it hits her as being a blunted vision of the US. And suddenly she feels the tog of nostalgia and the need to stop traveling and go home to California.

Joni compares the State to a “feel  good rock and roll band”  and under a rollicking acoustic guitar and a full fledge falsetto, Joni is less than Blue, she is getting better. It is a song of recovery. A brief encounter gives her back her smile and Cali is waiting.

Laura’s track starts quite and builds through an organ and not to catharsis, to confusion. Laura’s meaning is hidden in poetics whereas Joni in prose.  Joni sings “oh the rogue, the red red rogue” and Laura sings, “Truth about desire they say is a need to breathe for another day.”

What is happening is Joni is recovering from a bad relationship and Laura is leaving a bad relationship. As if “California” is the sequel to “Where Can I Go”? What connects the two is both melody (they are GREAT songs), sadness and a certain wellspring of female strength. Of the otherness of a different sex. They are both very female songs in the way, say, Costello’s “Man Out Of Time” is very male. Both songs imply a back story we are not privy to and baggage and heavy baggage. We enter the world’s mid-story and leave before they are thoroughly resolved. Terrible fights have Laura leaving, and homesickness has Joni going home, and the shadings between are all in the voice.

If Laura isn’t the new Joni, on “Where Can I Go” Laura follows in Joni’s emotional footsteps.

California – A+

Where Can I Go – A

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