Album Review: Laura Marling, 'Short Movie'

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Laura Marling, 'Short Movie'
Laura Marling, 'Short Movie' (© 2015 Ribbon Records.)

On her fifth studio album in seven years, Laura Marling begins a new chapter in her life and her songwriting. At 25 years old, she has recorded an album about a recent break-up and her return to the U.K. from America; Los Angeles couldn't keep the folk artist away from her native England, but it may have helped transform Marling as a musician. In fact, it's hard to still label her a folk artist after she left America to pick up an electric guitar and form a band.

Marling is outgrowing her Joni Mitchell influences for a sound that is more contemporary and less traditional than on her previous works. While she sheds her reputation as the soft-spoken, neo-folk artist, Short Movie combines Marling's talent as a guitar player and lyricist for a collection of songs that is tragically honest and sonically striking.

Although Marling's departure from Once I Was an Eagle is less dramatic than the sonic shift of her English contemporaries Mumford and Sons, her Short Movie serves as a portrait of Marling as a human and an artist. From the album's opening track, "Warrior," to its title track, Marling paints metaphors for the agony of awakening from heartbreak. Without angst or regret, "False Hope" reveals an artist who is self-aware and unafraid of expressing emotion.

Marling's ever-confident guitar playing is met with the life experience of an empowered female voice. She is unique in this respect, because it challenges the archetype of the girl with the guitar; listen, for example, to the album's closing song, "Worship Me," which weaves together themes of love and religion. In the third person, Marling's tone is calm and cold as she sings, "sit down and worship me, devote your life to peace, and breathe." The entire collection's dense musical arrangements combined with its poetic lyrics make Short Movie Marling's best album of her young career.

Short Movie is out now on Ribbon Music.

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