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My Top 18 Albums Of 2013: # 4 Tie Once I Was An Eagle

don’t follow her

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laura Marling’s Once I Was An Eagle is not the best album of the year for one simple reason it overstays its welcome. But if she cut it by 20 minutes it would be and also, while it isn’t the best, it is my favorite. It peaks early but sky high, the four song suite that opens the album isn’t merely the best four song opening you’ll here, it was the best four song opening you’ll here live on stage: I saw her do it three times and each time was great, even when her WFUV wasn’t good, those four songs blew me away.

Spotify have a live from Brooklyn recording, and the four songs are one 13 minute track and with only acoustic guitar, though to be honest the recorded versions are minimal as well, this sort of music, this sound, it is like deep deep soul music: the melodies bury into yu with a vice like grip and there is no sense fighting or changing or turning away, all you can do is give into it and, as you listen more and more and more, you wait for her to leave, the dismissal of “Breathe” “Don’t follow me, whatever you may hear or see”.

The spin on these songs is so drastically sexual but resentful, and musically such a melodic highlight, the two merge together. Take the night off indeed.

The problem is, the rest of it is, for the most part, not as good, and there is so much of it. “Master Hunter” is powerful mead but not quite there, and we are five songs away from “Where can We Go” and the next cycle break up make up begins. Through to the end of the album, Laura seems to be channeling a Joni Mitchell of the imagination. Joni is if Joni was an upper middle class English Rose with a superiority complex and a short fuse.

There is something about Laura which is less naiveté repressed and more privilege expressed; it comes across as a form of feminism: a sort of proto-rock star unwillingness to be signed up for anything approaching a long term commitment : she lies back, she stands up, next verse.

This hardness is belied by the sweetness of the verse (try a song not on the album, “Bleed Me Dry” for a perfect example ) and this hard-soft juxtaposition is at the heart of her Eagle-Dove story: she appears to be one, she is actually the other. Prey for me.

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