JPR Live Session: Laura Marling - Friday, June 5th At Noon
Laura Marling's place in the music world is already well-established: six albums, Grammy nominations, Brit Awards, and Mercury nods. Still, the peculiar truth after all this time, is that Laura Marling is perhaps not quite who you might think she is.
She was just 18 when she released her debut album, Alas, I Cannot Swim, and the records that followed, from I Speak Because I Can in 2010, through to 2017’s Semper Femina, captured a young songwriter exploring both her craft and identity. Her voice — a supple, mesmerising thing, evolved too: richer, harder, smokier when called for, while the songs spoke of wisdom and worldliness and womanhood. But youthful success has a habit of crystallising its subjects, and for many, Marling remained forever the naive, clear-voiced folk singer of her earliest days.
But she is 30 now, and her seventh album, Song For Our Daughter, finds her a wholly different proposition: an artist whose gifts are diverse and accomplished, her interests broad, her talent at its most powerful. The route to this exceptional new collection of songs began in the wake of touring Semper Femina, when Marling stepped away from both her record label and her management, and for the first time in many years found herself without any firm idea of her future. Instead she chose the unexpected: she collaborated with the theatre director Robert Icke; she formed a duo called LUMP with Mike Lindsay from Tunng, recording and touring an album of dissonant melodic beauty. Then she enrolled in a masters degree in psychoanalysis.
Time away has also allowed her to find a new kind of settledness. After many years of touring, and time living in the US and on the south coast, she has returned to London, living one street away from her oldest sister and her niece; her middle sister shares her home; she describes herself as “at a very comfortable place in my life, in a functioning long-term relationship.” Song For Our Daughter is the first album Marling has written away from the road, and it is perhaps this contentment that has allowed her to step away from confessional songwriting. “It’s really hard for me to say, but I think that lack of ‘I’ is probably there,” she says. “I’m aware of being looked at, internally, by the proximity of people around me. There’s a really good Henry Miller quote where towards the end of his life he stopped writing and started painting and said ‘I found painting to be the only medium by which I couldn’t cause people harm’. I was like ‘I feel you!’”
Listen Friday, June 5th at Noon for a JPR Live Session with Laura Marling on JPR's Rhythm & News Service. To listen online, click the orange "Play" button at the top of the page and select "Rhythm & News."