I have possibly been blogging too much about Laura Marling this week, but never mind. She’s amazing.
I had very high hopes for this album. Alas, I Cannot Swim, Laura’s first album, released in 2008 is one of my favourite albums ever and its what introduced me to British Folk music, without it I probably wouldn’t be blogging. I was wondering if she could match up to it with this second album. But what she has created is much more than just matching up to it. ‘I Speak Because I Can’ is absolutely stunning. There is not a forgotten track on the album, she has not just matched up to it, but grown up, the record shows how she has grown into a woman and continues to be an incredibly strong songwriter. The album was recorded with Marcus, Ted and Winston from Mumford and Sons, Tom Hobden of Noah and the Whale as well as Ethan Johns and of course Pete Roe.
Each track is beautiful and stands out in its own right. Devil’s Spoke has an ethnic feel, accompanied by a video filmed in India, yet remains very English. Made by Maid is the only track without any backing band and sings ‘I am blamed for every wrong ever he made, Forgive me I am only a maid’. Rambling Man, which is to be the next single has quite a Mumford feel to it, with the added banjo and beautiful harmonies. Blackberry Stone which is quite an old song and was the b-side to Cross Your Fingers has been re recorded, with beautiful string melodies, keeping the song beautifully simply but making it fit perfectly onto this new album. If I had to choose a stand out track, it would be Blackberry Stone. The next track Alpha Shadows, also an old b-side rerecorded is now accompanied by lovely Andrew Bird style Pizzicato violins. Goodbye England, the first single released in December, has a true British feel to it. Hope in the Air hears Laura sing ‘No Hope in the Air, No Hope in the Water, Not even for me your Last Serving Daughter’. What He Wrote has some stunning harmonies towards the end and Darkness Descends is a very sweet little track with a Americana country feel to it. The final track I Speak Because I Can, the last song written for the album truly shows of the beauty and power of Laura’s voice, its probably my favourite track at the moment.
The album also comes in a special edition with a DVD of a show in the summer of last year called ‘Laura Marling and Friends’ in the Royal Festival Hall and it also includes interviews in between the performances. Mumford and Sons, Alessi’s Ark, Johnny Flynn, Andrew Bird, Sons of Noel and Adrian, Peggy Sue and Pete Roe are all featured as well as Laura herself. It’s a really beautiful film, showing how much of a community these bands have. Some bands when they get successful, seem to be so manufactured and become separated from the audience but this British new folk scene seem like real people, making real music together and I think that makes the music and the culture much more appealing to the audience. Its a wonderful thing that’s happening.
I Speak Because I Can is a stunning follow-up to Alas I Cannot Swim, showing that Laura can continue to make beautiful music and is developing as an artist and will hopefully be around for a long time to come.
Best Tracks: All of them!