Monday, 6 March 2017

Laura Marling 'Semper Femina' (ALBUM REVIEW)


"...the album’s sound is as densely packed as the auditoria will be in her forthcoming shows, big bass dominating a somewhat noir soundscape, yet still allowing our heroine’s chocolatey mezzo vocal free reign".


Can it really be six years since Laura Marling bagged the Best British Female gong at the 2011 Brit Awards? Apparently so, and talking of sixes, ‘Semper Femina’, named after the famous quote by celebrated Roman poet Virgil, namely ‘Varium et Mutabile Semper Femina’, meaning ‘Woman is ever a Fickle and Changeable Thing’ (the Latin ‘O’ Level finally coming in useful there) just happens to be Laura’s sixth long player.

The album’s title may also demonstrate a modicum of self-awareness although the first feminine associations one gets when listening to the beguiling ‘Semper Femina’ is of warmth and comfort, perhaps the sort of songs a mother may sing to her child. The album’s title also appears in the lyrics on penultimate track ‘Nouel’ coincidentally a French baby name, leaving one wondering if Laura is trying to tell the listener something.


With the promotional tour dates for ‘Semper Femina’ selling out fast, (including the opening show at Leeds O2 – get in whilst the going’s good) one can’t help thinking as you’re drawn into opener ‘Soothing’ that the album’s sound is as densely packed as the auditoria will be at her forthcoming shows, big bass dominating a somewhat noir soundscape, yet still allowing our heroine’s chocolatey mezzo vocal free reign.


‘The Valley’ is similarly lush yet veers off in a much more pastoral direction, silky strings straight out of the Penguin Café, swooping over the gently plucked guitar and double-tracked vocal, creating something really quite exquisite, transporting the listener into a meadow where the grass is knee high, on one of those all too infrequent warm English summer evenings…worth the price of the album alone.


Despite the downtempo theme, there’s still plenty going on in terms of variety, the smokin’ blues of ‘Wild Fire’ a perfect illustration as Laura gets properly angry and proper sweary, electric piano maintaining the bar room feel, continued on the elegiac bluegrass tinged ‘Always This Way’.

Laura still knows how to rock out though, this time keeping her powder dry until the achingly beautiful finale ‘Nothing Not Nearly’, complete with monumentally disarming coda as you finally drift away in a post whatever bliss.


Supremely accomplished.

Words - Mike Price


Laura Marling

Released on March 10th 2017

Pre order Semper Femina here


Tour dates
8th March – O2 Academy, Leeds
9th March – Colston Hall, Bristol
10th March – O2 ABC, Glasgow
12th March – Albert Hall, Manchester 
13th March – O2 Academy, Oxford
14th March – Institute, Birmingham
16th March – Dome, Brighton
17th March – Roundhouse, London 
18th March – City Hall, Salisbury
21st March – Roundhouse, London