There’s a school of thought out there that Laura Marling is the definition of consistency. If you look at the reviews for her records you’ll struggle to find much negativity. Yet after 2008’s Alas I Cannot Swim and 2010’s I Speak Because I Can I’ve struggled with her albums as a whole; they just didn’t connect.
Semper Femina is a different storey however. When Laura first started releasing music, the standard cliché to roll out was that she was ‘mature beyond her years’. Thankfully now she’s past her mid-twenties that sentence seems to have stopped, yet ironically this is arguably the most mature record she has produced. It’s a record about lost love, lessons learnt and looking back with the focus strongly on womanhood. It’s all sung with Laura’s trademark calm delivery and whilst much of the record sticks to her folk traditions it also takes some bold steps in other directions to create some of the finest songs she has ever recorded.
The opening track and lead single, Soothing is just one such example, with its sensual jazzy double bass and swelling strings creating something that’s a long way from what we’d define folk music to be. The delivery reminds me a little bit of Portishead, something which crops up again on Don’t Pass Me By, the uneasy guitar and soft beats similar to something you might have found on Dummy.
Everything Marling does on Semper Femina is beautifully nuanced with a real attention to detail, both lyrically and musically. A number of the songs on it are my favourite pieces she has ever performed. Any superlatives that are thrown at Semper Femina are fully justified. It's why she's back on my albums of the year list after a gap of seven years.
Laura Marling - Soothing