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What We’re Listening to: Semper Femina by Laura Marling

If you’re a fan of thoughtful, introspective folk music, like Nick Drake or Joni Mitchell, you definitely should be listening to English singer-songwriter Laura Marling.  

 Marling started releasing records when she was a teenager.  Her early albums had a very traditional, retro folk sound.  But as she’s grown older (she’s now in her late 20s), her music has grown more complex and experimental.  This album and her previous one, Short Movie, feature electronic elements (including some great guitar work) which is usually excluded from folk music.

On Semper Femina, Marling focuses her songwriting on the idea of women as muses.  However, unlike the traditional passive muses, the women in Marling’s songs are not objectified or idealized, but instead portrayed as complicated real people.  The title “Semper Femina” is Latin for “Always a woman,” a reference to the Virgil poem about how women are “fickle and changeable.”  However, on Marling’s album femininity is given a more complex and nuanced view.

I’ve been a fan of Marling since her 2013 album Once I Was an EagleSemper Femina rivals that album as my favorite of her oeuvre. 

Stand Out Tracks:  The opening track “Soothing” has a sultry, Portishead-esque electronica vibe.  “The Valley” channels Nick Drake at his best.   “Wild fire” has a great, freewheeling rock sound, as does closing track “Nothing, Not Nearly.” 

Recommended for fans of:  Joni Mitchell, Angel Olsen, Cat Power, mid-1960s Bob Dylan