Laid across her imitation tabla and simulated scales are some of the most intriguing melodies to come from Laura Marling, yet. I’ve always admired her ability to write good melodies. This album is no different, everything feels seamless, perhaps due to the fact that the first four tracks flow straight into one another relentlessly and breathlessly. Her intonation is obscure, laying emphasis on unusual words perhaps clarifying her true meaning. The bleeding of the first four tracks, ‘Take the Night Off’, ‘I Was an Eagle’, ‘You Know’ and ‘Breathe’, into one another shows off her compositional prowess. Harmonically not a great deal changes, yet even after as many listens as I have I can’t get bored, or accurately decipher between the tracks. This album is one which feels like it would be spoilt to be technically torn apart and analysed.
The fourth track, entitled ‘Breathe’ is intended as a kind of release from the pace and tumult of the start of the album. There’s a lot of space and silence. I really admire an artist that can properly use silence in music. ‘Master Hunter’ continues the scalic-driven music and importance of percussion in this album but is reminiscent of an earlier Laura Marling, Alas I Cannot Swim. ‘Little Love Caster’, ‘Where Can I Go’ and ‘Love Be Brave’ make up the softer, more melancholy tracks of the album with a country, Joan Baez, Norah Jones feel with licks in the vocal, more strophic in setting and probably as catchy as the album will get- a good thing!
The beautiful ‘Interlude’ requires a bit more attention. It is beautiful and of an impressionist/ expressionist style, serving as a hiatus for reflection.
The last track of the album brings back the motifs of the start with a sing-speak style melody, aptly named ‘Saved These Words’ it almost feels like Laura Marling’s last chance to get into the album everything she wanted to say. Generally there’s a real sense of growth from Marling as an artist. As listener interest was starting to wane after the previous album but it feels like she’s found her groove with Once I Was an Eagle. Official release date, Monday 27th May.