Once I Was An Eagle
It’s amazing how Laura Marling manages to show just enough sophistication and development with each release; every time she puts an album out into this world it’s worth hearing as not just another set of songs but a whole new level (for her) – a step up. And that in itself is no mean feat, for she seemed to arrive, fully formed, adult songstress, singer/songwriter – one who actually could do both.
The Joni Mitchell comparisons seem apt for one reason only – the maturity; the way the songs soar with just voice and guitar as the main tools because of the songs. Sure there’s her voice to propel them but they are really able to take flight because of the weight of them, never flimsy and fluffy and meaningless. There’s craft and depth. There’s something huge in each song. But boy do the songs on Once I Was An Eagle really, truly fly.
Actually, the more you look, the more you listen, you’ll hear more to tie that Mitchell comparison in; a voice toughened if not roughened by smoking, a determination in the playing and writing, the possibility that tunes – any – could take off in a new direction at any minute.
We have the likelihood of her turning, now, to the jazzy interplay of where Mitchell went when she finally grew sick of the tired old “singer/songwriter” tag. Imagine that – Laura Marling with her version of a Brian Blade or Chris Dave on drums, with a Pino Palladino or Larry Klein on bass, a Lionel Loueke figure on guitar. Man I look forward to something like that.
But there’s no rush. Not when she’s writing and playing like this. There are sixteen songs on Once I Was An Eagle. And not a dud. That’s above and beyond in these times of hit-‘n’-hope/have one-or-two-‘n’-make-do. She’s really (entering) a class all of her own.