Sound — 10
It's practically impossible not to fall completely in love with Laura Marling. This singer/songwriter has grown to become Britain's finest music ambassador, surpassing all boundaries of genres. It's not just her amazing capacity to produce truthful and heartfelt lyrics but also her ability to surround them with enticing and crafted arrangements. This is her third studio album and fortunately for us, the waiting didn't take too long. Producer Ethan Johns comes back and the overall sound is not so far away from Laura's previous album, "I Speak Because I Can". The band sounds solid, surely thanks to all the time spent together on the road. The Muse, the opening track, sets a playful tone with jazz-like catchy melodies and dominant guitar lines. Other highlights are Salinas, which starts solemn and softly but goes in crescendo towards a final epic chorus, and Night After Night, which provides a subtle and intimate moment and proves that all you need is Laura and a nylon-string guitar to be in music heaven. By the time The Beast kicks in with its raging electric guitar arrangement we know we are in for a special ride. Sophia and All My Rage are the perfect closure for this gorgeous journey, with Laura taking the folk seat once again. Sophia is a masterpiece and perfect in every way, a testament both melodically and lyrically of this woman's endless talent.
Lyrics — 10
Try to write lyrics filled not only with meaning, wittiness and cleverness, but also with heart and sentiment, and when you fail for the hundredth time to do so you will appreciate Laura's gift so much more. Somehow all these songs are deeply connected, dealing with themes such as love, resentment, hope, alienation and the beasts inside us all. The beast is always present throughout this magnificent set list. It may be a woman, a man, or even Sophia, a goddess of power. Ask the angels, will I ever see heaven again? cries out Laura in the mesmerising "Salinas" and by the end of the album a glimpse of relief seems to arise as she strongly claims I leave my rage to the sea and the sun. Her voice makes even the highest of notes sound heavenly, sincere and seamlessly effortless. She can be delicate, fearless, nostalgic or mischievous all within one single line. Rest in the bed of my bones, all that I want is a home, she says and every heart undoubtedly follows.
Overall Impression — 10
Despite all the labels the music industry tries to apply, the truth is Laura's music remains universal because it deals with the most basic emotions and she delivers each word with earnest intensity and conviction. This new album finds her surrounded with skillful musicians, able to provide each song with a unique identity, to make each note not only definite but necessary. It's an album that perfectly complements her previous one I Speak Because I Can and sets an even higher standard for the British music scene. Within only three albums and lots of touring in between, Laura has proven that genius can most certainly remain unpretentious, honest and lovely as ever.