My first encounter with Laura Marling was back in 2009, when I saw her supporting Daniel Johnston. I hadn’t heard her debut record Alas I Cannot Swim at that point but I was impressed enough by what I heard. However, when I did hear her solo records I didn’t really connect with them. I went through some years of being swamped in submissions of singer-songwriters, to the point that I was turned off musically by those of either sex.
In fact I horrified one friend when I dismissed Ms. Marling and said ‘Look! I’ve still got my Joni Mitchell records’. Well, sorry Amanda and sorry Laura Marling, because it would appear I have done you a great disservice. I started to wonder if this album might be more up my street when I heard the first track to do the rounds from this record ‘Master Hunter’.
And then the album arrived. And with the opening salvo of ‘Take The Night Off’ and ‘I Was An Eagle’ that this album, recorded with Ethan Johns it’s really not another singer-songwriter record. There’s a toughness here, and yet a dreaminess at the same time. Proof that intensity does not mean that you have to put the amps up to 11.
And I’ve gone back to listen to this album again, and I’m impressed by how good it is. Like a lot of records, it does dip a little about two-thirds of the way through, and (maybe this is to do with being a child of the vinyl-era, when albums tended to be shorter), but it regains it’s stride on the last two tracks ‘Little Bird’ and ‘Saved These Words’.
It’s a fair cop, guv…I was wrong.
Once I Was An Eagle is out on Virgin on May 27.