Laura Marling, "Once I Was An Eagle" (Ribbon Records)
"I'm the first to admit that I'm still pretty young," sang Laura Marling on her debut single, "New Romantic," back in 2008. The track was full of teenage yearning and angst, sung in Marling's beautiful melancholy tones. Now 23 and on her fourth album, the songbird shows she has grown up on "Once I Was An Eagle."
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The album's debut single, "Master Hunter," is delivered with confidence and swagger: Marling sings with a more fierce tone, and with an American twang to her accent (which can perhaps be credited to the fact she is now living in Los Angeles).
Influences of multi-instrumentalist producer Ethan Johns are apparent; he's worked with the likes of Kings of Leon and The Vaccines to create records with stadium-filling sound. Marling's "Master Hunter" has a fuller, richer sound than other tracks on the record, thanks in part to a range of different instruments.
But many of the tracks are completely stripped down. On "Undine," Marling's voice takes center stage, and she is playful with it, dancing around pitch and spoken word. On "Where Can I Go," the highlight of the album, she offers pearls of wisdom, including the line: "The truth I've learnt about regret is the hardest truth I've come to yet."
Marling is documenting the trajectory of her life through song and musical discovery. It is intriguing to know where she will go next.