Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Laura Marling’s seventh album Song for Our Daughter, released last week, is a vulnerable production which peels back her gritty blues-rock soundscape and delivers a lyrical narrative filled with wisdom, humour, and pain.
At certain times carefree, and at other times introspective, the album opens with the acoustic, metaphor-heavy, ‘Alexandra’, which is a half-nod to Leonard Cohen’s ‘Alexandra Leaving’, and inspired by Marling’s fascination with the singer’s attitudes to women. The track – with its clear soundscape and withering vocals – is a classic example of Marling’s love for reading and her talent for crafting women-centric stories with her lyrics. Following track ‘Held Down’ once again offers similarly muted sonics elevated by the brilliance of Marling’s raspy vocals, and the heart-breaking lyrics which describes the cruelty of abandonment.
Nestled between the psychedelic crooning of ‘Held Down’ and the country-tinged slow-build production of ‘Only the Strong’ is the upbeat folk-rock tune ‘Strange Girl’ with an upbeat, swaggering tone, showcasing the range that the whole album is aiming for within four simple tracks.
Piano-led, gospel-esque ‘Blow by Blow’, is the beginning of perfection where Song for Our Daughter is concerned with its achingly raw song-writing, deceptively simple soundscape giving way to the peak of the album – the title track ‘Song For Our Daughter’.
A delicate composition with a strong message of innocence stolen too soon, the title track is one that made Marling cry while she wrote it, and definitely brings tears to the eyes of listeners too. This is followed by another brilliant offering, the sweetly flowing ‘Fortune’ – with a theme of “collected freedom” born out Marling asking her Mother why she had always kept a ‘running away fund’ – which the singer considers “one of the better songs I’ve ever written from a songwriting perspective.”
If the beginning of the 10-track album can be thought of as an introductory warm-up, then the tail end is a fully-formed masterpiece. The optimistic outlook and falsetto of beautiful break-up song ‘The End of the Affair’, co-written with Blake Mills, evolves to the soulful sound of penultimate track ‘Hope We Meet Again’.
The LP closes with the sweetness and comfort of ‘For You’, written at home with her boyfriend and kept on the record in its rawest representation, the demo form. The smooth instrumentals of the track spirits us away to a world of comfort and warmth before it fades away, and fingers itch to replay the entire track list all over again.
Incredibly intimate while still kept at a distance with boundaries of literary inspirations, Song for Our Daughter is a collection of songs focused on Marling’s rich vocals and classy songwriting abilities, which leads a feather light soundscape.
If you’re nitpicking, tracks like ‘Strange Girl’ with its folksy tone and danceable rhythm seems out of place on an otherwise sonically vulnerable offering. But on the whole, the album is mature, hopeful, pretty much perfect, and a release that will be replayed a few times over.