Laura Marling - I Speak Because I Can

Craig Broad 05/04/2010

Rating: 4.5/5

For most, it was a surprise that Laura Marling and her debut solo album 'Alas I Cannot Swim' was nominated in 2008 for the ever more mainstream Mercury Prize. What surprised me more however, was that Marling wasn't accepted with open arms as much as other folk or solo acoustic acts that have followed. 'Alas I Cannot Swim' was an easy but yet harrowing listen, filled to the brim with infectious folk melodies, so obviously built up through her time with the impressive Noah And The Whale but with an added poetic cynacism, that Noah And The Whale would not yet achieve until their latest album, post Marling. Brilliantly intelligent, the album scoped many emotions we all have to succumb to in our day to day relationships but did so in a tongue in cheek manner. The follow up album 'I Speak Because I Can' holds a huge burden, the burden of following up where 'Alas I Cannot Swim' has left off and the task of propelling Marling even further into the mainstream limelight.

As is the case with many follow up albums, 'I Speak Because I Can' is more mature. Gone are the tongue in cheek lyrical quips that I once heavily admired and into the fold come intelligent and dare I say it, more mainstream lyrics. Lead single 'Goodbye England' has been receiving an overly annoying amount of play on Radio One and while it isn't perhaps the catchiest number that you would expect to hear on daytime radio, it is a beautiful piece of music adorned in orchaestral instruments and accompanied by minimal piano melodies and Marlings simple guitar work, that fits perfectly for the song. Lyrically, Marling is in mourningfully good form and while you perhaps don't have the ability to quote the lyrics as much as the singles from her albums predecessor, the emotion strikes you more than anything she has previously released. Opening track 'Devil's Spoke', my personal favourite from the album, is an upbeat hint towards old Americano music and starts off the record in foot tapping fashion, encouraging you to listen further unlike many other solo acoustic artists who are happy to comotose you from the first second. 'Hope In The Air' is bitterly sad, opening with the line "There is a man I know, seventeen years he never spoke, guess he had nothing to say, he opened his mouth on judgement day" and slowly building from a single guitar melody into big haunting piano bass lines and then drums and group vocals before the track falls back for Marling to sing the best lyric of the album perhaps, "A friend is a friend forever and a good one will never leave, never".

There is no doubt that 'I Speak Because I Can' is a different being than 'Alas I Cannot Swim' and in many ways, this will alienate previous fans as Marling blatantly tries to push from her underground success and ride the wave of money that folk artists Mumford & Sons have created and in all honesty, I was alienated until I really paid attention to the album. 'I Speak Because I Can' is keeping to what we expect from Marling, but building on it three fold and there is no way that this won't make it onto every journalists album of the year list come the end of 2010. It will make it onto mine, that is for sure.

Laura Marling Myspace