Laura Marling resonated with a quote by Henry Miller recently, when he said painting was the only “medium by which I couldn’t cause people harm”. Employing the heavy use of first person to invite you into her personal story; ‘Songs for Our Daughter’ is a powerfully emotive album exploring themes of femininity and equality that is, however, sure to leave a mark.
Marling left us alone at the close of her sixth album ‘Semper Femina’ in 2017; the final song of the album ‘Never, not Nearly’ ending with the sound of Marling setting down her guitar and walking into the garden to the increasing chorus of birds. A profound way to end a raw, intimate album. Her latest masterpiece ‘Songs for Our Daughter’ pushed a month ahead of its initial release date to, in her words, at the very lease entertain, and at its best provide a sense of union. With more time to process, the album makes for the perfect lockdown listen. Now enrolled in a masters of psychoanalysis and fresh from collaborative projects, Marling weaves profound questions with simple ones, all perfectly nuanced into our current existential crises.
’Alexandra’ delivers direct and powerful lines in a reply to Leonard Cohen’s song ‘Alexandra Leaving’. Rhythm of language is coupled perfectly with the rhythm guitar, each line flows perfectly from the next, “If she left you like a woman, did you feel like a man?” Marling asks of Cohen. The use of intonation lavishing her words with power.
Marling cements a more maternal voice in ‘Strange Girl’. There is rhythmic percussion that breathes the song to life, backed by a chorus of voices praising affirmations before sternly stating “Oh, young girl, please, don’t bullshit me”.
Releasing the album ahead of time was certainly for the best, there is an ever-present sense of union throughout, almost like a pantomime. ‘Only the Strong’ sweetly sings “I won’t write a woman with a man on my mind, hope that didn’t sound too unkind” leaves you with a deep smile of solidarity.
It is the title track of the album where you begin to understand her resonance with the Henry Miller quote. “Song for Our Daughter” is such a deeply profound glimpse into the premature loss of innocence. The sweeping string arrangement and slow melody make for an especially powerful song, powerful enough to introduce crying into your newfound day-drinking schedule while listening in your own back garden.