It’s always an exciting time when one of the UK’s greatest singer songwriters returns with new music and nine years after her incredible debut album was unleashed upon us all, Laura Marling has now released her sixth studio record, ‘Semper Femina’ and it may just be her best so far. Of course this is always going to be a subjective matter and what some love, others may not, in fact it’s not entirely impossible that you reading, yes you, aren’t a Laura Marling fan at all. If this is the case then I have no time for you at all (jokes lol). Now, anybody that has followed Mojo20 will probably know that we lean heavily in the most biased of directions when it comes to Laura Marling and will always take the opportunity to champion and promote her latest material, but ‘Semper Femina’ deserves your attention, and here is why.
This latest record seems to focus prominently on gender individuality and the differences between femininity and masculinity. A poignant and important subject in todays political and social climate. The Latin translation of the album title means ‘Always A Woman’ and as a strong and fervently independent figure, Laura Marling strikes me as the perfect spokesperson for gender equality, a movement that in 2017, shouldn’t even need… moving, but as we’re all made continuously aware, especially by the current leader of the free world, there’s plenty of room for improvement of attitudes on this ball of water and soil we call earth. It features relationships, sensuality, friendship, love and interaction throughout and does it in that Joni Mitchellesque way that Marling has managed to perfect over the last few albums.
So that covers themes and ideas, but musically, her melodies are spell binding and her tone demands your ear. She has settled in well into an almost constant tempo throughout which sounds at first like a lack of diversity and range but actually creates more of a feeling of a journey or a story, and you follow it through with only those minor ups and downs, dips and bends, but maintaining a path right through the heart of the album. I imagine a camp fire as Marling plays and just hanging on every word with a glass of wine in hand, content in the ambience of the music but immersed in her words. Having said this, each track does feature its differences and a subtle attribute that sets it apart. ‘Don’t Pass Me By’ is a haunting number, featuring strings and plucking that give it a folk edge that I can’t compare to any of her previous music. ‘Wild Once’ seems to be a look back at times past and the people that featured within it, something that in late twenties, and I can vouch for this, becomes increasingly important. A retrospective at the lives you’ve lived before and the characters that starred alongside you. ‘Nothing Not Nearly’ speaks of the importance of love, although I couldn’t tell if this was somewhat tongue in cheek, so I may need to investigate further into that, but it does feature a screeching guitar riff throughout that felt like the sharp stinging pain that love can often produce. ‘Soothing’ and ‘Next Time’ stand out as early highlights but I see it already as an album that will offer up a new favourite on a weekly basis, just like ‘Alas I Cannot Swim’ still does after all this time.
I could go on and explain every track but I implore you to just go ahead and treat yourself, give it a listen. You’ll enjoy it, I promise.
Words by Stuart Green (@mojo20_music)