Review Summary: An album that is all about breakups, the darker side and progression.
When a young and petite 17 year old Laura Marling arrived to the folk world in 2008, she was beyond mesmerizing with her unique voice and simplistic folk arrangements. Marling had spawned out of the very biased folk “scene” of west London, and her debut album, Alas, I Cannot Swim
proved that she was the real deal. Though upon releasing I Speak Because I Can
, Marling had questions to answer as critics believed she would only become a one trick pony and she was out to prove that her latest release would be an act of progression, not that of regression. The Marling of old had gone, and in came a much darker version.
The first thing that is noticeable when listening to I Speak Because I Can
is the production values. There is more clarity in the sounds unlike the basic “bare-boned” approach on Alas, I Cannot Swim
. You can tell straight away from the first track, “Devil’s Spoke” that this is the case as everything sounds much clearer cut, and the vocals seem to empower and have a stronger presence than before. Plus instead of just folk-y yearnings with only guitar in hand, Marling has added a full affair of instrumentation with the backing band being a mix of Mumford & Sons/Noah and the Whale. The full textured sounds are first found when listening to “Rambling Man”, which embodies a whole chorus of guitars, banjos and upright bass performing a thunderous sound, giving Marling’s wild yet daunting vocals a backing that embodies the way she sings. Exemplifying this is the way Marling’s vocals have also become much different than anything she attempted on Alas...
. Her voice is has changed from the wispy Lisa Mitchell-esque vocals to a much deeper and down tempo style-lings, giving her a much darker resonation in contrast to the bright and pretty vocals of old.
Much had been written about I Speak Because I Can
being a break up album of sorts, and that many of the songs show the darker side of Marling’s music. “Blackberry Stone” is an example of this as Marling is accompanied by a string orchestra, which adds a saddening tone to the texture of Marling’s deep voice, and simple strummed guitar. Lyrically the song also encompasses a deeper and sorrowful theme, as she discusses her break up with Noah and The Whale front man:
“And I am Laura now, and Laura still,
And you did always say that one day I would suffer.
You did always say that people get their pay.
You did always say that I was going places,
And that you wouldn't have it any other way.”
Though the whole album does not follow sorrowful or saddening plots, it also includes the usual upbeat folk tunes that Marling does so well giving the album the desperate variation that is needed in folk music. Songs like “Darkness Descends” and “Made by Maid” flourish in optimism and flow with easy going guitar accompaniments while the lovely “Goodbye England (Covered in Snow)” gives the token tender love song, yet it is a pleasant contrast to the plot of the album that is much about breakups and hardship.
I Speak Because I Can
does contain some flaws, with the lack of depth in some songs, showing some holes in her song writing and it’s hard not to ignore the very obvious Mumford & Sons sound that is almost made its own impression on the album. Yet, Laura Marling has definitely come a long way from that tender age of 17, and developed into a much more mature person and this shows throughout I Speak Because I Can
. As a listener you are given the other side of Laura Marling, a side that is a little darker and sinister to normal, yet you can’t help but love it, as her magic is spread throughout the album. Laura Marling has done what she set out to do – Show her maturity and progress in the way she writes her music, though there is no doubt a lot more to come from this young talent.