Laura Marling has been at this singer-songwriter business for a surprisingly long time now you think about it. As she’s gone on from 2008’s ‘Alas I Cannot Swim’ to her new album, ‘Short Movie’ she’s gotten progressively more and more intimate as she’s built up more and more critical adoration. 2013’s ‘Once I Was An Eagle’ saw Marling leave more of the varied instrumentation for her most stripped back and intimate album yet. An album that saw Marling creating an album with an overarching narrative that ran throughout.
Marling’s new album ‘Short Movie’ in many ways follows the narrative that her career seems to have been following, yet it’s also the biggest departure of her career so far. It seems that everything has been heading towards an intimate sound so far, yet when it’s come, it’s so much different from you would expect. It’s so much darker. Marling was extremely dissatisfied with what she wrote after ‘Once I Was An Eagle’ stating that it all felt way too much like an afterthought. ‘Short Movie’ is the result of her trying to get away from that mindset.
‘Short Movie’ has Laura Marling starting what feels like a new chapter in her career. The song-writing on this album is much more direct than her older material and not to its detriment. There aren’t any topics completely hidden away and subdued, everything is very out in the open. Marling sings of the dark side of love on this album like the way that you can be completely blinded by it on the track ‘I Feel Your Love’ where she becomes so wrapped up in someone’s love that she doesn’t care that it’s not good for her. Each track is like a series of realisations where she talks about experiences she’s had in the past. Specifically some of her experiences she had while travelling around LA. This makes it all so much more personal to her than previous projects.
The title for the album alone is based on a hippy she met who would always use the phrase ‘It’s a short fucking movie, man’. Many of the experiences she had in LA translate onto the track ‘Don’t Let Me Bring You Down’ where Marling sings of how in LA everyone is happy to the point where they won’t let anything get them down. They completely shun negativity. It’s a similar mindset to the one that she portrays on the feelings of love elsewhere on the album. Marling struggles to enhance the mindset that the people of LA have towards happiness for herself on the track ‘Easy’ where she talks about how she had experiences with psychedelics and she says that ‘It was a bit too high for me/ I spent a month thinking I was a high desert tree’. Although there aren’t coherent themes on this album, the way in which she talks about her experiences in LA are done with such beauty. The way in which she delivers all of these topics in her husky voice is always done so it sounds as if she’s menacing at times, snarling at life.
Sonically ‘Short Movie’ once again keeps within the narrative of Marling’s career arc while simultaneously doing something she’s never done before. Her beautiful guitar playing is still at the forefront of her music, with her finger picking skills being beyond admirable. But this time she’s brought a host of instrumentation and has had them played extremely quite to the point where they’re sometimes barely audible. Electric guitars, strings which were played blind (she let the string players hear the song once before they recorded) and just low distorted noises play throughout this album. Sometimes they’re quite out in the open like on the track ‘Warrior’ which has the noises resembling the background noise you hear in everyday life.
All of the themes on this album have been explored before and while Marling brings nothing new to the table in terms of being a singer-songwriter, she proves that she’s one of the most worthwhile young voices at the moment. As mentioned before this sounds like the beginning to a new chapter of Marling’s career. A career that should hopefully see her take her writing skills of now and see them transform from something great into something remarkable.
Best Tracks: Let Me Feel Your Love, Easy, Warrior