Laura Marling – Song For Our Daughter: Album Review

Laura Marling delights on her seventh LP, that has surprisingly been released at short notice to provide a sense of union in 2020.

Released: 10th April 2020

Label: Chrysalis / Partisan

Format: CD / LP / Digital

We were taken by surprise this week when Song For Our Daughter, the new album from Laura Marling, was announced.  The album was originally scheduled for release in August of this year, but Laura has taken the bold, and I must say very welcome, decision to bring the release date forward to 10 April in order to bring some much-needed relief, entertainment and (her words) Sense of Union to a world beleaguered by isolation. Thank you Laura!

My new album ‘Song For Our Daughter’ is coming out this week, ahead of our planned schedule. In light of the change to all our circumstances, I saw no reason to hold back on something that, at the very least, might entertain, and at its best, provide some sense of union.

Laura Marling on the new release date for her album

Song For Our Daughter is the seventh Laura Marling album and is the first release in her own name since 2017’s Grammy-nominated Semper Femina.  Since that last release, Laura has been taking the time to explore her potential and to rethink her approach to life; as well as the well-documented collaborations she has enjoyed, in theatre with Robert Icke and in the LUMP duo with Tunng’s Mike Lindsay, she has enrolled on a Masters Degree course (in psychoanalysis!) and has realigned her approach to songwriting. 

The results of these new experiences are there, for all to hear and enjoy, on Song For Our Daughter, which is a delightful collection of likeable, intimate, mature, highly personal songs with intriguing story lines, all passionately delivered and tastefully produced.

Laura’s voice has matured significantly over the 3 years since Semper Femina.  Always a delight, she has now developed huskier tones which are applied to excellent effect wherever required and the overall effect is a voice which floats effortlessly along a continuum between Joni Mitchell and Karen Carpenter, stopping off with Michelle Shocked and switching seamlessly between high melody and the spoken word as the narrative of the song demands.

The tasteful production tends to feature Laura’s voice and acoustic guitar (sometimes simply strummed, sometimes finger-picked) well to the front of the mix, with string bass and percussion in the background, and it works well, allowing the listener to focus upon the delights of Laura’s voice and upon the subject matter of the songs. 

Several of the songs, notably Blow by Blow, Song For Our Daughter and Fortune feature lush strings, arranged by Rob Moose (of Anthony and the Johnsons, Bon Iver and The National fame, amongst others) and, whilst these certainly enhance the McCartneyesque Blow by Blow, I feel that they become almost overwhelming on Song For Our Daughter and, perhaps, redundant on the otherwise wonderful Fortune.

The standout tracks on the album are almost too numerous to mention, but I’ll have a go…  Held Down has a dreamy introduction, laced with self-harmonies and echo effects, which then leads into one of the more band-orientated cuts on the album.

Poppy, catchy and a potential hit single; Strange Girl, is Laura’s self-assessment of her own moods and behaviours. It has a calypso feel and an enjoyable half-spoken vocal line. Song For Our Daughter, the album’s title track, is a lovely introspective song, delivered over a softly strummed acoustic guitar part and sprinkled with piano flourishes; Fortune is, notwithstanding my comment regarding the string arrangement, perhaps my favourite track on the album – it’s theme harks back to Laura’s discovery of her mother’s “running away fund” and the story is clearly recounted in Laura’s most Karen Carpenter-ish voice, over a simple, effective acoustic guitar backing.  The album closes with “For You,” another simple, enjoyable song with a nice, whimsical ‘Summer of ‘67’ feel.

Song For Our Daughter is a work of clearly evident love and self-awareness and is a worthy new addition to the Laura Marling canon.  Its early release is particularly welcome and will give Laura’s followers (whose numbers will, I hope and expect, be greatly increased when news of these new tunes gets around) something to enjoy and to give hope for the weeks to come during these strange days.

By the way, expect to hear more from Laura Marling during the months to come.  In particular, look out for a new LUMP album coming your way before too long…

Laura Marling: Official Website / Twitter / Facebook

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