Our second ‘Shouldabin‘ award winner is already a 3 time Mercury nominee. Never one for ground-breaking production or cut-throat lyrics, she calms assesses the world around her and her place in it. But on her sixth album, Laura Marling comes to terms with her femininity, and that of those around her, in all its fragile beauty.
Laura Marling – Semper Femina
Semper Femina is Latin for “always a woman”, a sentiment that is clearly close to Marling’s heart. We knew femininity was on her mind from her excellent series of podcasts ‘Reversal of the Muse’ in which she spoke to various women of the industry about their experiences. The surprise on this album is that, despite the many casual acts of sexism she and her interviewees have experienced, Marling isn’t seething with bitterness, she’s seeping empathy. With her creamy vocals unashamedly placed right at the front of the songs, you can close your eyes and sit in the room with her, hanging off every syllable.
Characteristically self-aware, Marling often turns the telescope on herself. In ‘Always This Way’, she reveals “lately I’ve been wondering if all my pondering is taking up too much ground“. And on the stunning slow-builder ‘Wild Once’, Marling laments the process of ageing over the gradual approach of strings: “I was wild once/And I can’t forget it/I was wild, chasing stones“. But perhaps it’s precisely because she’s a little more seasoned now that this album stands out from her previous work.
Listening to Semper Femina is like watching a super-8 film of your life at 6am, tucked up on the sofa when you can’t sleep, a mellow reminder of life’s journey.
With 3 Mercury nominations (2008, 2010 and 2013) under her belt, it would be hard to argue that she’s been over-looked. But if any Laura Marling album deserves a prize, it’s this one, for it’s stylish simple beauty.