Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle

‘Once I Was An Eagle’ is the fourth album from Laura Marling and with producer Ethan Johns they have created a masterpiece. Shy in her live performances on record this English rose turns the spotlight on herself and opens up in a way that is both honest and brave. The album, split into two sections by an interlude, is a stripped back affair, just guitar and cello with the occasional flurry of drums or keys allowing the listener easier access to Marling’s exquisite voice and confessional lyrics. The opening suite of seven songs manage to blend almost seamlessly and yet amazingly retain their individuality. Guitar motifs crop up throughout as Marling sings of loss, heartbreak and naivety and it is in this first section that all the comparisons to Joni Mitchell will be made. But there are also traces of Dylan especially in the ‘Master Hunter’ with its Tangled Up In Blue/It Ain’t Me Babe hybrid. The second half of the record is closer to her previous work and has more elements of Dylan but also nods to The Band, Velvet Underground, acoustic Zepplin and Aimee Mann. It is less raw than the first half but only just and the songs are slightly more fleshed out with instruments but the quality remains the same. Marling has the ability in her voice to range from angelic highs to whiskey soaked rasps that add real dynamics to these tales of relationships gone awry. But I think the most striking thing here is how mature the content and the song writing are, let us not forget that Marling is only 23. With an album this good it’s hard to know how she will ever be able to top it but for now we can just savour her ‘Blood On The Tracks’.


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