The ever-prolific Laura Marling only recently offered us her mythical folk master-stroke Once I Was An Eagle, but she returns with more on Short Movie, an equally but differently expansive work focused on electric guitars and scorched rock energy. Same serious, intense work; different approach.
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She suited her hair brown but very quickly changed it back to white. She suited her hair long but very quickly had it all lopped off. And as with her various haircuts, Laura Marling changes musical styles too. Not crazily so, she sticks to her folk template but each record she moves in a different direction.
Here, she has slipped away from the navel gazing introspective singer songwriter vibe of before and into a more rawk direction which aligns her more with folks like PJ Harvey. There’s no doubt in my mind that ‘False Hope’ is an excellent lead single from the album weighing in something like a Fairport Convention who had discovered gritty indie rock. Her voice sounds great - lithe and in control. Don’t think though that this is a Marling gone electric album - you won’t be shouting ‘Judas’ at her concerts. ‘Warrior’ opens lightly, the thrum of acoustic guitar the only musical constant, ‘I Feel Your Love’ is similarly acoustic based - she sounds remarkably like Joan Armatrading, you can see that the music has descended from the appalachian mountains and bluegrass, she’s been listening to stuff but this is the work of a mature and confident artist.
'I Am A Woman Now' she sings in 'Don't Let Me Bring You Down' and there's a notable gritty maturity at work but I’d have been happier if she'd taken it further - I want more songs like ‘False Hope’ but instead we get pass-me-by's like the nondescript ‘Walk Alone’ and the spoken word Laurie Anderson-ish of ‘Strange’. ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ proves my point that the most exciting music here is electric. Maybe she’s just easing us in.
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