The Hang of Music: I Review Because I Must

OK, this is going to be an early one, as today is a day full of busy busy BUSY!

However, there’s always time for a good introduction. Sadly, though, I still haven’t got the hang of how to write these intro things, so I’ll get right to it – this week, I ‘ave been mostly listening to Laura Marling’s second album “I Speak Because I Can”. Give her a listen on the way down.

In the interests of getting started, then, the opening tune – “Devil’s Spoke” – is brilliantly creepy, at least at first. Seriously, it has an impressive atmosphere, leavened only by the change to a major scale halfway through. I’m not even sure how much it changes – all I know is that it relents, and suddenly sounds a damn sight less gloomy.

Whereas tracks two and three are much more traditional folky fare, in the best possible sense. This album sounds a lot like it’s going to grow on me.

… I say it will grow, but “Blackberry Stone” already seems to be taking root.* It’s here that she starts to remind me of another great, folky Laura; Laura Veirs. The accompanying violin is what does it. It’s never a bad idea to have a bit of violin on the background, in my opinion.

Can I call myself justified about that whole “it’s going to grow on me” thing? When hope in “Hope In The Air” came on, I instantly connected with it more than I so far had with the others. That’s because it was the only song I’d heard before –  it came up on random on my mp3 player a few weeks ago.

Or maybe I connected because it’s a really good song. It has at least one of the hallmarks; I’m still trying to find out what the hell it means! I know it means something!

Other things that grow on me.

This may be overstepping my bounds in terms of personal inference, but, I have a theory about this album, and I have a captive audience – you. So here goes: the lead singer of Noah & The Whale and Laura Marling were going out for a bit, while she was in the band. Then at some point between N&TW’s first and second albums, they broke up, and thus N&TW’s second album, “The First Days of Spring” is supposedly an album of break-up songs.

I think this may Laura Marling’s version of the same. The whole album seems tinged with regret and that very specific kind of melancholy of a break up.

The reason why I wondered if I was overstepping my bounds is because the theme of this album seems to be being able to speak for herself. No, you don’t say. There are more than a couple of references to speech – she has her tongue cut out in “What He Wrote”, along with a number of references to being “spoken for”, “Hope In The Air” has a man who says not a word until judgement day, and of course the eponymous track.

I have to wonder why she has a fixation on her being able to speak – is it meant as a protest over the hundreds of women who have no voice? Oh great, I’ve spoiled the mood. At any rate, I doubt that’s what it’s about.

Here, have some cheeriness, and let's get back on topic.

My memory is failing a bit (in my old age), but did “Alas, I Cannot Swim” sound like this? I swear, I can’t remember it having this sort of atmosphere. I swear it was much cheerier. Not that this is a criticism; all of the songs on here sound sorrowful, and they do get better the more I hear them.**

And then “Darkness Descends” appears. After an album of slow and instrospective songs, suddenly “Darkness Descends” sounds nothing like that. For the most obviously doom-and-gloom title, it’s one of the most upbeat of the lot. And that that speaks volumes about the tone of this album.

I know I’ve said this before, but I’ll reference it one, third, final time: this album is a grower, and it already sounds great. With a few months, I may even like it more than her first. Roll on winter, then.

OK, she’s worked with Noah & The Whale (good) and she’s done a couple of good solo albums (also good). She’s worked with Mystery Jets, too (good as well). Well this just makes me think I should listen to Mumford and Sons then, who she has done a load of collaborations with and, by extension of the same great track record, should also be good. They’re in good company, after all.

* See what I did there? Triple pun! You know, because it’s about a blackberry seed, and it’s growing and… I’ll shut up now…

** I’m counting that as a win on my part, then.

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Posted on October 27, 2011, in Music, The Hang of Music and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I’m glad you like Laura Marling, she is indeed awesome! And has a third album out! Which is pretty good in my opinion! 🙂
    Lewis and I went to see her last Saturday. I thought she looked very sad and sorrowful for the majority of the concert, I think I was expecting some passionate expression to match the mood of her songs? But she played and sang really well, so it was very enjoyable anyway. 🙂
    Not listened to this album as much as the first, but do love “Devil’s Spoke” and “Goodbye England (Covered In Snow)” although I have no idea what it’s about! I thought it was just a lovely wintery song…but I think there is some depth to it.

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