Friday, March 10, 2017

Laura Marling's Sixth Is "Semper" Fantastic

Laura Marling - Semper Femina
More Alarming Records
-out today
4 / 5

Laura Marling's sixth album is not something we typically listen to. We like rock-outs, soul sessions, complicated layered what-have-yous. Stuff with a lotta moving parts. Contrary to our usual tastes, the Los Angeles native's Semper Femina feels, to take the opener, "Soothing." That is, sonically, it feels soothing; but make no mistake, behind the comfortable vocals, the sparse guitar, behind the illusion of a soothing album lies a quiet intensity. It's an introverted LP, an album that begs multiple listens to catch the subtle effects that work here. In short, it is not an album to put on in your car; it is an album to listen to quietly, on the stereo, alone, and we like it.

"Wild Fire" is one of our favorites off these nine, a track that comes off vaguely Dylanesque, both in instrumentation, vocal approach, and even, thankfully, lyrically. That is to say, the lyrics are intelligent: visual, perceptive, truthful. "Wouldn't you die to know how you're seen? / Are you getting away with who you're trying to be?" Another favorite is "Nouel," a guitar-and-vocal with solid tension and release. The whole of these nine are above-par, certainly; instead of pulling a least favorite track to compare, we'd rather get across that Marling's work here isn't for everyone, but it's worth reaching out to attempt something new and different and cerebral. It's not flashy, but it's an enjoyable album that grows on us.

We're glad we went against our normal musical bent here, for Semper Femina is a gem. Recommended.

Listen to some of these tracks on Marling's Soundcloud.

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