I have been thinking hard about the new Laura Marling album, Short Movie, getting ready to review the Tuesday release, and also getting ready for the Monday concert at Warsaw. I’ve had it in heavy rotation and then began dipping into Laura’s earlier albums. I like Short Movie a whole lot, but it isn’t Once I Was An Eagle. Unlike the opinion of some of the critics I’ve read, I deny this is her best album: Laura never needed to widen her musical palette with an electric band, and there is nothing on it to match the four song suite that opened Once I Was An Eagle. It is consistently good, but it isn’t consistently great… but stop, that’s for the full review.
For now, here is Laura Marling’ Top 10 songs…
1 – Sophia – This story of post-carnal falling out is the sort of thing a 20 year old Laura could write and a 25 year old Laura, one who has possibly been on the other side of infidelity and scarlet letters, couldn’t write. Calling to the Goddess of Wisdom for help in figuring her reaction to the the man’s act of infidelity where leaving open whether the singer is the adulterer or the betrayed woman. A rhythm based acoustic guitars pounds the song, the drawn out verses and the galloping rap choruses. Marling has mentioned that her father taught her guitar (when she was five? Is that possible?) and his powerful rhythmic style informs the track, though its gorgeous melody and folk classicism is what makes it a masterpiece.
2 – Take The Night Off – The first track of her best album is a sexually charge introduction to desire and love which would segue effortless into the rest of the four part song suite as the relationship she is singing about explodes and she storms off to the rewards of a new life; this has the bodily power of extending sensuality, of a first deep kiss.
3 – Goodbye To England (Covered In Snow) – A nostalgia song, Laura wrote it about a walk she took with her father when she was a child. England is my home, I lived there till I was twelve years old, and this song affects me exactly the way Laura meant it to. I was in England the winter of 2010 and thinking about my Mom, who had just died, in a train on the way to Scotland, and at the border I was looking out the window when this song came out.
4 – Strange – Off her new album, I wouldn’t love this as much if I hadn’t heard her perform it life where her sing speak verses were cut by her wild soprano in the chorus. The juxtapositioning was very powerful and she botched the arrangement here, but the power is overwhelming: “do you know how strange I love you?” speaks volumes and “those who do good will be treated accordingly” is a statement of adulterous credence.
5 – Where Can I Go – Laura is so restless, emotionally and physically, she roams. Here, for once and for sure, she owns the Joni Mitchell references. This would not be out of place on Blue. A quietly, perfect, folk song… maybe Fairport Convention as well.
6 – Short Movie — Sometimes the use of the word fuck is gratuitous in the extreme, listening to Chief Keef recentl, it is almost a tic, a hiccup. Here, Laura pushes it to its limit. Why fall in love? Why pour your heart out in a song? Because “it’s a short fucking movie man”.
7 – Ghosts – Laura must have been 17 years old when she wrote this and it suggests she might have made a great short storyteller. The story about the open hearted truth of a man and Laura, telling a truth that haunts her to today, “it’s not like I believe in everlasting love”. The way she skips through “the ghost the ghost the ghost” is a hook in itself.
8 – Rambling Man – This song is so powerful, she had it central to her live performance. As a Daddy’s girl, this is a daughter’s vision of her Mom despite the title, it is a clear thinking on an unknowable topic.
9 – Easy – Her Dylan moment musically, the verses echo “4th Time Around” in this story of old friendship, and the words of wisdom at the heart as she spends the night rambling talking, “you can’t get lost when you’re not alone.” Another perfect nostalgia ache, with the guitar like Santa Cruz.
10 – Breathe – Don’t follow me, whatever you may hear or see…
the goat and not the G.O.A.T
a tune hummed by her son who is autistic and doesn’t speak
I am thrilled this hasn’t been canceled
one of their best pop rock efforts
a hit in 21 different languages
plenty of surprises packed in less than 3 minutes
A futuristic visionary
The two outlaw bad boys trade verses and harmonize
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waiting to expire and yet it has its moments
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