Laura Marling. Once I Was An Eagle.

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oiwae.jpg


Laura's 4th album.

Its a stormer.

The first 4 tracks form a suite.

Recorded over 10 days, the track order is the order they were written.

Ethan Johns producing & playing, with just a cellist.

Started streaming the album & was so knocked out by track 3 had it ordered on vinyl.

Bought from her website, not those non tax paying mega corps.

http://www.lauramarling.com/onceiwasaneagle/

Have no reservations in name dropping Nick Drake and Jeff Buckley in the same breath.

Properly properly seriously good.

 

browellm

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She is 23 years old and has already knocked out four very high quality albums when a lot of artists would give their right arm to produce one in their entire career.

Top talent.

(Love the nod to Bill Calahan too.)

 
G

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She is 23 years old and has already knocked out four very high quality albums when a lot of artists would give their right arm to produce one in their entire career.Top talent.

(Love the nod to Bill Calahan too.)
Thats as true as a very very true thing that is Mr B.

 

Eckythump

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And a good Pitchfork review today..................

Laura Marling has spent the first few years of her career in a state of perpetual arrival. Alas I Cannot Swim-- her 2008 debut, made when she was 18-- was a bright, brooding collection that set her up as the darling of the latest British folk revival and saw her nominated for the Mercury Music Prize; a feat she repeated with 2010's more polished I Speak Because I Can. On 2011's sprawling A Creature I Don’t Know, she further established herself as an ambitious artist with a widening, sharpening vision. With each release, her talents-- keen songwriter, deft melodysmith, butterfly wing-fingered guitarist-- continued to reveal themselves so steadily as to have a lulling effect, like waves hitting some shoreline where it’s always high tide. But now here comes Once I Was An Eagle, the first of her albums to sound like a vigorously polished, hard-won achievement. It’s expansive and ambitious, and divorced of all the tweedy preening and aw-shucks raggediness the idea of “folk” has accumulated in recent years.

It's dark, it’s angry, it’s even sexy, in a sly, subtle way.

Once I Was An Eagle marks another, more literal departure: Making the record in producer Ethan John’s countryside studio was one of Marling's last acts as a full-time Brit. Whether she had plotted her move from London to Los Angeles before she wrote the album isn’t clear, but either way these 16 songs bear witness to the process, embodying the particular catharsis that comes from moving house, the existential tumult that so often accompanies the dismantlement of a material life, all that sifting through the detritus of past and current lives. She digs deep into the far-back grimy corners of herself, examines every scrap and trinket, fully weighs each of the thousand tiny decisions about what to throw out and what to drag along to the new address. (In reality, she took barely any of her possessions to LA.)

This could be called a concept album, or a breakup record, though neither quite seems to suffice; “emotional bildungsroman” comes close, “scorching self-interrogation about the possibility of happiness and unpoisoned human connection in the wake of one or more failed or failing relationships, carried out under the ever-present pall of mortality,” maybe closer. As a lyricist, Marling has always favored a veiled sort of storytelling, her songs never not deeply felt but always more in the vein of short stories than memoir, and executed so supremely that sussing out the “real” from the “unreal” has always seemed beside the point. But this one feels personal in ways the others haven’t; the “I” of the songs is not always clear, as always, but seems closer than ever to being Marling’s own self.

Eagle was made over 10 days, with just a cellist and Johns (on carefully-placed drums, piano, organ) providing accompaniment; Marling recorded her vocal and guitar parts in a single take each, and in one day, though it somehow sounds even more immediate. Present in both her singing and her playing is a ferocity that now seems to have been lurking there all along; at times, too, she’s possessed by a newly emergent serenity, and an astonishing ability to shift between the two modes. This is especially evident on Eagle’s opening tracks, four songs written as a proper suite and a fifth that feels equally of a piece. Together they seamlessly, almost imperceptibly, build from somnambulant finger-picked acoustic to a wild fury of howling cello and frantic tabla-style percussion, “Take the Night Off” leading it off the way a rainshower usually precedes a hurricane; by “Master Hunter”, the suite's cap, Marling is inhaling relationships and spitting them back out as heaving piles of splinters and ash.

The rest of the album is spent digging through the rubble, out of which creatures and names and scraps of ideas turn up over and over: birds and beasts, the devil, water-- and, most prominently, the unnamed “you.” All through Eagle’s first half, this seems to be the same person, the same man: her “freewheeling troubadour,” the dove to her eagle. Some amount of drama has transpired offstage, though the specifics are not made clear, are perhaps too mundane to bother with; what's extraordinary is how Marling handles the fallout. On these songs she interrogates him, indicts him, admits her own cruelty towards him, always stopping short of apology, not even allowing herself to playact the rites of guilt.

Later, after the sparse chill of “Interlude”, the perspective shifts, the cast widens. “Where Can I Go?” obliquely introduces Rosie, a figure perhaps understandable as some fragment of who Marling might have been before all this began. On “Little Bird”, loping with the immense grace of Nick Drake, Marling questions the girl, or herself: “Why did you run from everyone who only tried to love you, Rosie?” Meeting this seemingly crucial, recurring character so late in the song cycle is a jarring development; then again, perhaps that’s the point, to echo the shock of the the singer finding herself again, bloodied but alive at the bottom of all the wreckage.

By this point, the album is circling itself, or the idea of its former self, as if waiting for the thing to die. Bits of “I Was an Eagle” return in “Pray for Me”-- the “preying” becomes “praying”; the climbing and swooping riff, there edged with a sitar-like guitar effect, here just simply thumbed along. Something heavy has been shaken off; some light is breaking through. “You asked me blind once/ If I was a child once/ And I said I’m really not sure,” Marling sang way back on third track “You Know”, in the dusky murmur she increasingly favors; now she finally has a reply, or finally lets herself reply: “I was a child once/ Oh, I was happy young/ When all I didn’t know needed doing had been done.” The question-asker is long gone; Marling doesn’t answer for his sake, but for her own.

Knotting up that loose end seems to make the final quarter of the album possible-- that realization of what needs to be done, and then the doing of it; putting away childish things, which, in the end, seems Eagle’s core concern. “Thank you naivety, for saving me again/ He was my next verse,” Marling nearly barks, on the last track, over a mounting wall of what seems like every instrumental bit to appear on the previous 15 tracks: all that warm cello, palm-hammered percussion, billowing organ, and her steady, spangling guitar. The mess of love, of hate, has been sorted through, purged, sorted and packed away-- not entirely tidily, and not in a way that could protect against any future disasters, but enough for a fresh start somewhere else. Marling is 23; at first, the amount of time she had spent on this earth seemed relevant because nobody in her peer group was making albums like this. With Once I Was an Eagle, it’s because nobody of any age is making albums like this.

 

Hayward

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I'm liking this too. Does anybody else think it's too long? the first 5 songs are amazing but then it feels like it dips to me and recovers at the end. 16 songs (1 hour) is very long for an album in my book. Maybe I have a low attention span. :)

A lot of it is fantastic though and the production (and playing) is top draw from Ethan Johns again. There is not one record `I have that he has been involved with that I don't enjoy.

 
G

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New entry into the album chart at no. 3.

I've not had an album blow me totally away like this in quite a while.

Beautiful, exquisite stuff.

A break up album thats being mentioned alongside Dylans Blood on the Tracks.

 

vinyljames

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Literally just posted up in the what I'm listening to thread about this album.

It hasn't left my player since I got it, really nicely recorded and stunning vocals.

This also isn't helping my Marling Crush I've got at the moment either, that voice man...gets me everytime. haha

 

Sumdumgi

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I've really tried to like her, a friend is a big fan and I've heard all of her stuff but I just cannot get away with her at all. I've had a listen to the new album on Spotify this morning and found it a bit dreary ...

 

Tel

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Had this pre-ordered on vinyl from my local record shop and have been playing it for a couple of weeks now.

I like it a lot but have absolutely no idea why she is labelled as 'folk music' is it just because it is a girl and acoustic guitar?

Beth Orton sometimes gets this label too. I have no idea why, neither of them have any links with the tradition of folk music.

 

Brown Bottle

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Just listened to it for the first time, a stunning album. What a tremendous catalogue of works for someone so young.

Cheers BB

 

musicbox

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Jul 23, 2005
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I love all her previous albums, but not this one. Just seems to go on and on in same vein for 50+ minutes until I want to shout at her "For god's sake, try an online dating agency!"

The previous albums are all far richer and more varied.

 

musicbox

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OK, tried again last night, started at track 5. Better this time... might try again from the start tomorrow but still thinking its just too downbeat and too consciously trying to be something out of Laurel Canyon 1970.

 

syep2001

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I'll have a spotify on this one.

I actually really liked the first one, 2nd really was a let down for me.

 

ray70

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I listened to the four records (all on vinyl) back to back over the weekend. Stunning stuff. She is an exceptional talent.

 

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