At barely 23 Laura Marling has already amassed an impressive musical career complete with multitudes of accolades and critical acclaim. With her immense vocal talent, lyrical ingenuity, and guitar virtuosity Marling has garnered comparisons to vaunted folk musicians like Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchel. However, with her fourth album Once I Was An Eagle Marling establishes herself as an entirely unique musician intent on creating her own indelible mark in the musical landscape.
In the age of redundant musical remixes and short bursts of musical inventiveness it is remarkable to reflect on Marling’s impressive musical epic. Once I Was An Eagle teeters on the side of a concept album as it chronicles a young girls exploration through love complete with all the trials and tribulations that characterize this often discussed story. Nevertheless Marling’s contribution is very much her own as her protagonist moves captivatingly through stages of love, abandonment, tenacity, and wisdom.
The opening quadrant of songs deals with the protagonist divisive relationship with her beau. The centerpiece of this portion of the story is the incendiary “I Was An Eagle,” which pivots the protagonist into a position of power allowing her to freely disconnect herself from her meek lover. From here the character goes through a process of maturation into a keen seductress discussed in the albums first single “Master Hunter.” Ultimately though the cycle concludes where it began with the character once again ready to face the world of love once more with more confidence and understanding.
Though the story may appear banal the songs are anything but. Marling’s incredibly vibrant vocals permeate through every piece creating an atmosphere of true honesty and openness. Though her vocal talent and lyrical ability is the centerpiece of the performances, her guitar ability should not go unnoticed. Most songs feature Marling on the guitar and provide a wonderfully soothing and animated accompaniment to her piercing lyrics. In my opinion this is a defining album for Ms. Marling and one that demarcates her as a truly enigmatic and timeless talent within todays musical plane.