Despite only bursting onto the music scene in 2008, at age 18, British singer-songwriter ‘Laura Marling’ has now released seven studio albums. But never before have we had to wait over three years for a new album like we have for ‘Song for Our Daughter’. Be in no doubt, however, that the wait was worth every minute, as ‘Song for Our Daughter’ is easily one of the best singer-songwriter albums of the last few years.
An understated but emotional album, ‘Song for Our Daughter’ draws upon a range of inspirations, from Leonard Cohen, T.S. Elliot and Paul McCartney (in fact it even references the Roman tale of Lucretia in an impactful reminder about the importance of believing women).
The songs in this album have an inexplicable soothing quality to them like when Marling harmonises to a backing track of her own voice in ‘Only The Strong’ and, when she ends final song ‘For You’ with the soft repetitions of “Mmmmm…. Mmmmm”. She is also incredibly adapt at creating rich imagery for listeners, by going into incredible detail about her surroundings and experiences while maintaining a conversational tone (she is similar to Phoebe Bridgers in this way). This can be seen in the following lyrics from ‘Hope We Meet Again’: “Left my heart with a man in those eastern woods / He is people-shy but his words are good / And I hope that he won’t fade away / I should write to him tomorrow, I wrote that yesterday”.
In ‘Song for Our Daughter’, Marling seamlessly alternates between agonising (“I fear that we’ve been lost here for too long”) and resolution (“You’ll get your way through it somehow”). At times, Marling manages to transcend the dichotomy of agony versus resolution, instead expressing both simultaneously. Nowhere is this clearer than in the title track, which was inspired by the death of Trayvon Martin, but is more widely about innocence, loss, mortality and vulnerability (“Lately I’ve been thinking about our daughter growing old / All of the bullshit that she might be told”, “You remember what I said / The book you left by your bed / The words that will outlive the dead”).
However, despite the heaviness of the themes tackled by Marling, this album never feels heavy or hard to listen to. Perhaps this is because of the softness of Marling’s dreamy voice or perhaps it is because of the light-hearted, ironic tone she is willing to take on in places (“Announced yourself a socialist to have something to defend / Oh, young girl, please, don’t bullshit me”). It is how Marling manages to tie so many seemingly contradictory things together at once – dealing with heavy themes without becoming bogged down by them, demonstrating longing and acceptance all within one song – that makes this one of the best singer-songwriter records I’ve seen in years.