Check out our festival coverage, including that from SXSW 2017 and BIGSOUND 2017, through here.

SXSW 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Live at Leeds 2016 | 2015 | 2014
Sound City 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Great Escape 2015 | 2013 | 2012

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Single Review: Laura Marling – Don’t Pass Me By

 
By on Tuesday, 12th December 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

It’s perhaps a bit unusual to write a single review for a song that we’ve already mentioned in a review of the full album. However, Laura Marling’s early 2017 LP ‘Semper Femina’ is well worth a second look. The album has been mentioned on several Best of 2017 lists (including this one from Noisey and this one from NME) and was recently nominated for a Grammy award in the category of Best Folk Album. On the strength of those accolades, Marling has released a new deluxe version of ‘Semper Femina’ and a new single from the album, ‘Don’t Pass Me By’, which is accompanied by an elegant and artistic lyric video.

The song itself is graceful and refined, its arrangement evolving slowly and hypnotically over the course of four wistful verses and a plaintive refrain. Marling’s vocal delivery is both sultry and soothing as she sings of an evolving relationship and the residual emotion that lingers between two people in the process of growing apart. The protagonist of her narrative seems to be of two minds, confessing, “I can’t get you off my mind”, before asking in the next breath, “can you love me if I put up a fight?”

This kind of duality is characteristic of ‘Semper Femina’, as Marling fluidly and unapologetically juxtaposes opposing emotions, gender pronouns, and musical styles. ‘Don’t Pass Me By’ is among the most elusive of the songs on the album, its poetry both consciously evocative and willfully vague. But despite the layers of thematic conflict, Marling’s musical treatment is calm and composed, its dynamic hushed and its tempo serene throughout. The visual representation in the lyric video streaming below conveys a similar sense of peace and tranquility, as its graphics continuously modulate and transform in much the same fashion as Marling herself over the past several years.

9/10

‘Don’t Pass Me By’ appears on the new deluxe version of ‘Semper Femina’, which is available now via More Alarming Records/Kobalt. TGTF’s complete previous coverage of Laura Marling is collected here.

 

Video of the Moment #2329: Laura Marling

 
By on Wednesday, 29th March 2017 at 6:00 pm
 

Before we headed out to SXSW 2017, Laura Marling released her newest album. ‘Semper Femina’ is available now from More Alarming Records/Kobalt. After we returned and hunkered down on working on our reviews of the festival, I entirely missed posting any of Marling’s recent videos she directed herself. ‘The Valley’ is the third of her self-directed promos, and as the album itself, this video is a collection of clips celebrating the female form. Draw your own conclusions on what it means by watching it below. To read through our pretty massive collection of articles on Laura Marling here on TGTF, go here.

 

Album Review: Laura Marling – Semper Femina

 
By on Friday, 10th March 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Semper Femina album coverOne of the highlights of SXSW 2015, for me, was seeing singer/songwriter Laura Marling in all her photogenic beauty. I was familiar with her music, having reviewed her 2013 album ‘Once I Was an Eagle’, and fascinated by the consistently high quality of her songwriting, but I hadn’t realised how captivating she was as a performer until that point. This week, Marling releases a new album titled ‘Semper Femina’ that simultaneously brings both of those characteristics to light.

The album title is a shortened version of the Latin phrase “varium et mutabile semper femina”, meaning “woman is ever a fickle and changeable thing”. Those final two words, “ever woman”, are the ones Marling concerns herself with, beginning in the video for album opener and first single ‘Soothing’, which I reviewed here at the end of last year. In terms of both music and lyrics, ‘Soothing’ turns out to be a fair foreshadowing of what lies beyond it.

Perhaps the most immediately striking aspect of ‘Semper Femina’ is Marling’s unapologetic depiction of female characters from her own female narrative perspective. This is significant, as some of her lyrics might be more usually expected from a male narrator about a female protagonist. But Marling seems to revel in the ambiguity as she focuses her primary attention on the vivid emotion in her stories. In ‘The Valley’, she evokes an almost tangible sense of nostalgia and regret, while at the same time keeping her pronouns purposefully fluid: “I love you in the morning, I love you in the day, I’d love you in the evening, if only she would stay”. Indeed, the roles of narrator and protagonist seem inseparably intertwined, as if there were a constant series of subtle perspective shifts happening behind the scenes.

From a musical perspective, the album contains a few mild surprises. ‘Wild Fire’, for example, is soulful, perhaps a little jazzy, in its smooth dynamic and the uneven meter of its lyrics. Vocally, Marling’s measured delivery shows remarkable variation and sensitivity in conveying the complex range of emotional subtleties in her narrative lines: “she keeps a pen behind her ear in case she’s got something she really, really needs to say / she puts it in a notepad, she’s gonna write a book someday / of course the only part that I want to read / is about her time spent with me”.

The edgier ‘Don’t Pass Me By’ and current single ‘Nothing Not Nearly’ both take cues from Marling’s previous album ‘Short Movie’ in their use of electric guitar and a raw, organic vocal style. The dark, sultry intro of ‘Don’t Pass Me By’ is both hypnotic and somewhat sinister in light of the song’s ominous lyrics, “you ask her if she knew / was this something I would do / from the start?”. The distorted guitar sound of ‘Nothing Not Nearly’ is initially a bit jarring, but the song’s chorus, “the only thing I learned in a year where I didn’t smile once, not really / was nothing matters more than love, no nothing no, no nothing no, not nearly”, is among the most memorable melodies on the album.

Late album track ‘Nouel’ is the centerpiece of ‘Semper Femina’ in many ways, not the least of which is the title line in its lyrics: “oh Nouel, you must know me well / and I didn’t even show you the scar / fickle and changeable, semper femina”. The song’s spare acoustic arrangement highlights Marling’s character-driven narrative and once again the intermingling femininity of her narrator and protagonist. Marling’s singing voice is nothing short of beautiful here, in both its tone and its inflections, elegant yet down-to-earth, wise and mature, ephemeral and elusive.

Marling’s own lyrics in ‘Always This Way’ are a reminder of the apparent contradiction between her relative youth and her deep well of songwriting experience. Despite her self-deprecation in the lines “25 years, nothing to show for it . . . 25 more, will I never learn from it, never learn from my mistakes?”, there are very few mistakes or missteps on ‘Semper Femina’. Rather, the album is a realisation of the potential Marling hinted at with ‘Short Movie’ and a clear indication of her continuing evolution as a songwriter. She has learned to take herself seriously, but no longer seems to feel the need to go out of her way proving it. Here, she has allowed herself the artistic freedom to explore a set of ideas that genuinely interest her, and the synthesis of her voice, her songwriting skill, and her intellect speak naturally for themselves.

9/10

Laura Marling’s sixth LP ‘Semper Femina’ is out today on More Alarming Records/Kobalt. Marling is currently on tour in the UK. Details on her upcoming full band dates are listed here and a list of more intimate solo dates is through here. To catch up on TGTF’s complete archive of coverage on Laura Marling, be found use this link.

 

Laura Marling solo shows / March 2017 UK Tour

 
By on Thursday, 26th January 2017 at 9:00 am
 

Laura Marling has just announced five new solo dates to follow her previously scheduled full band tour of the UK this March. Marling will release her highly-anticipated new LP ‘Semper Femina’ on the 10th of March via More Alarming Records/Kobalt. You can take a listen to the album’s soulful second single ‘Wild Fire’, in the form of its lyric video, below the tour date listing.

The newly announced solo dates, billed as the ‘Tour de Ville’, will take Marling to a handful of smaller venues around England and Wales. Tickets for these intimate shows will be available starting this Friday, the 27th of January, at 10 AM. Having sold out her 17th of March booking at the London Roundhouse (as well as most of the other dates on the full band tour), Marling has also added a second full band show at that venue on the 21st of the month; those tickets are available now.

Tuesday 21st March 2017 – London Roundhouse (full band show)
Wednesday 22nd March 2017 – Bury St. Edmunds Apex
Friday 24th March 2017 – Stockton ARC Theatre and Arts Centre
Saturday 25th March 2017 – Wrexham Central Station
Sunday 26th March 2017 – Exeter Lemon Grove
Tuesday 28th March 2017 – Norwich Waterfront

 

Single Review: Laura Marling – Soothing

 
By on Wednesday, 7th December 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Laura Marling might not specifically identify herself as a feminist songwriter, but her work has taken a decidedly feminist turn of late. Following her most recent project ‘Reversal of the Muse’, a series of podcasts which she described as “an exploration of femininity in creativity’, Marling has announced a new album with a distinctly feminist title: ‘Semper Femina’.

Due for release early next year, ‘Semper Femina’ will be Marling’s sixth full length record, but its first single, ‘Soothing’ marks her first experience as a music video director. Inspired by “a series of vivid dreams Laura experienced whilst making the album,” the promo video is a study in contrasts, both visual and musical.

The predominant imagery in the video features two female bodies clad in shiny pleather, synchronously writhing and weaving to the tribal drum rhythm and the serpentine groove of the song’s bass line. This scene is interspersed with views of a small and staid gathering of onlookers, and a male-female couple sensually intertwined with a long blue ribbon. Marling’s vocals throughout the song are as striking as the pleather garments on her visual subjects. Her voice is ever so slightly strident, angular and sharp against the lush but subdued instrumental arrangement, beginning and ending her loose narrative with the same lyric: “you can’t come in, you don’t live here anymore.” The dark, unusual colour of the bowed string harmony only adds to the song’s elusive quality.

‘Soothing’ might invoke more questions than it answers about ‘Semper Femina’, but it’s an intriguing first look into Marling’s headspace after her starkly personal previous album ‘Short Movie’. From this point, the album could easily veer off into experimental avant-garde territory, but it might also be the album that establishes Laura Marling as one of the defining songwriters of her still-young generation.

8.5/10

Laura Marling’s sixth studio album ‘Semper Femina’ is due for release on the 10th of March 2017, via More Alarming Records/Kobalt. Marling has already announced a list of UK live dates to support the album release; you can find details here. TGTF’s full archive of previous coverage on Laura Marling, dating back to 2008, is right this way.

 

Laura Marling / March 2017 UK Tour

 
By on Wednesday, 30th November 2016 at 8:00 am
 

Laura Marling has announced the release of her sixth studio album ‘Semper Femina’ for the 10th of March next year, as well as a list of UK live dates to coincide with the album release. ‘Semper Femina’ follows Marling’s ‘Reversal of the Muse’ podcast series, which focused on femininity in creative endeavours, and her 2015 album ‘Short Movie’, which TGTF touched upon here and here.

Tickets for the following shows will be available for general sale this Friday, the 2nd of December. You can also buy tickets now with pre-orders of ‘Semper Femina’ on Marling’s official Web site. Stay tuned to TGTF in the near future for a review of the first single from ‘Semper Femina’; in the meantime, you can read through our past coverage of Laura Marling right back here.

Wednesday 8th March 2017 – Leeds Academy
Thursday 9th March 2017 – Bristol Colston Hall
Friday 10th March 2017 – Glasgow ABC
Sunday 12th March 2017 – Manchester Albert Hall
Monday 13th March 2017 – Oxford Academy
Tuesday 14th March 2017 – Birmingham Institute
Wednesday 16th March 2017 – Brighton Dome
Thursday 17th March 2017 – London Roundhouse
Friday 18th March 2017 – Salisbury City Hall

 
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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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