Review: A Song for Our Daughter by Laura Marling

There’s something about Laura Marling’s bucolic folk sound and sharp British accent that makes listening to her music feel so personal, so homey, and yet provides a world to escape into. She’s even commented herself on her “uncanny” sound, and, as a three-time Mercury Prize nominee in the twelve years she’s been active, you’d think she’d know a thing or two.

I’ve been a fan of Marling’s music since her Short Movie era in 2015, although I didn’t realise that her debut album, Alas, I Cannot Swim, was released in 2008 when she was only eighteen!

Oh, and she’s currently studying for a Masters in psychoanalysis.

Simply put, Marling blows my mind, both as a musician and a woman, and I was excited when the release of her latest album, A Song for Our Daughter, was pushed forward from its original summer release due to COVID-19.

Her seventh studio album follows on from Semper Femina, which the singer released in 2017, and continues her exploration of the female condition. However, this time the singer-songwriter takes inspiration from Maya Angelou’s Letters to My Daughter, as she gives advice to her prospective daughter and younger self. In an interview with The Independent, Marling said that she thinks all of her output has been “an evolving relationship with what it is to be a woman”. Now, rather than saying “why is this my lot in life?”, Marling hopes to say, “That won’t be my lot in life”.

In the wake of cultural moments such as the #MeToo movement, this album feels like it couldn’t have come a second too soon. The stripped back, acoustic sound that has served Marling well since the release of her debut album allows her powerful lyrics to really hit home. In A Song for Our Daughter, the easy-going folk sound of Semper Femina resurfaces alongside the musician’s speak-singing style of vocals.

And that’s not the only way this album evokes feelings of nostalgia; the lullaby-esque, ‘For You’ shows an uncharacteristically positive side to Marling’s writing, her enchanting, soft-spoken tone making for a heartfelt ballad. The song ends with a series of hums that reminded me of an old Beach Boys tune and gave this song a real warmth. In her title track, Marling creates a poignant and emotional base for her listeners to escape into, the swell of strings against her acoustic guitar creating a moment of much-needed catharsis in our current climate.

This album serves as the perfect accompaniment for some self-reflection and much needed empowerment right now. However, Marling’s album is far from a maudlin evaluation of the tests of life. The upbeat tune ‘Strange Girl’, with its gospel-style backing vocals, screams of summer confidence in its message to “be brave”, and the untiring sway of ‘Held Down’ urges Marling’s figurative daughter to “say what you mean”.

This album feels like a conversation we should all be having – its beautiful soft melodies work well with Marling’s sharp tones, and the singer-songwriter provides the perfect balance of upbeat, fun tunes, and soft, reflective folk ballads, truly capturing the past twelve years of her life.

-Molly Rymer

Featured Image Source: Partisan Records

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