Posted on March 27th, 2015 (3:00 pm) by Angela Goldberg

With the release of her fifth album, Short Movie, Laura Marling comes across as a seasoned veteran. Listening to her labored voice, insightful lyrics, and introspective guitar, it's easy to forget that her debut 2008 album was released when she was just 18. The 25 year old British singer has already had a storied career, and Short Movie continues to solidify her standing in the folk music world.

Throughout the album, Marling's versatility has seemed to grow while she simultaneously seems to personally flounder. With a penchant for decidedly dark songs, Marling is often compared to the likes of Joni Mitchell, which remains true on Short Movie. However, here she shows up with a more electric sound and a voice that has clearly grown. Marling seems to move effortlessly from evoking Joni, to reminding listeners faintly of Jose Gonzalez, and even occasionally sounding as though Ani Difranco could have been an influence. Her lyrics have also become much more personal, bringing to mind the introspective, storytelling aspect of Gillian Welch's sound. All of this implies that Marling is a little more relaxed than she was on her 2010 breakout, I Speak Because I Can. While the lyrics on Short Movie still show Marling in a state of flux, trying to figure it all out, her tone holds less intensity and sharpness. All in all, it is a more approachable, more human take on Marling's easily distinguishable voice and lyrics. It is the same kind of approachability that made Joan Baez and Carole King folk icons.

While her previous releases have an overarching sense of mysticism and her lyrics have been riddled with heavy metaphors, Short Movie is much more confessional. This time around, Marling chose to deviate from Ethan Johns' influence, and produce the album with her drummer, Matt Ingram, and engineer, Dan Cox. Right off the bat, Short Movie poises Marling to be a significant voice of folk rock music for a generation that came along after the likes of Neil Young and Bob Dylan. The lyrics of "Warrior" slink out of the gate, paying homage to America with the line, "I'm just a horse with no name." It's a fluid, echoing track, evoking images blurred by wavy heat lines in the middle of the California desert. Meanwhile, "False Hope" introduces a more raucous, electric, and decidedly rock sound from Marling. It's a track about longing, acceptance, and uncertainty, with Marling immediately posing the question, "Is it still okay that I don't know how to be alone?" It's dark, introspective, and catchy as hell. "Walk Alone" keeps the electric guitar, but slows things down. Even with the new electric elements, these songs still sound like Laura Marling songs. In fact, the first few notes of "Walk Alone" sound as though she is about to dive into a cover of Joni Mitchell's "A Case Of You," before the songs takes on its own soulful life, complete with vocal play and minimal strings. Meanwhile, "Strange" and Don't Let Me Bring You Down" introduce a new almost-spoken vocal styling from Marling that warrants Bob Dylan comparisons.

At its core, Short Movie comes across as an exploration of feeling like you should have it all figured out, but grappling with the fact that life is still uncertain. It's an album of growth and evolution. It listens like it could be Marling's journal as she ventured to Los Angeles. looking for answers, and only ended up returning with more questions.

It sounds like an eloquent ode to the fact that you can come of age, at any age.

Track List:

  1. Warrior
  2. False Hope
  3. I Feel Your Love
  4. Walk Alone
  5. Strange
  6. Don't Let Me Bring You Down
  7. Easy
  8. Gurdjieff's Daughter
  9. Divine
  10. How Can I
  11. Howl
  12. Short Movie
  13. Worship Me
Laura Marling - Short Movie Review
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

80 / 100
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