I Speak Because I Can - Laura Marling

Universal acclaim - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 21
  2. Negative: 0 out of 21
  1. I Speak Because I Can delivers on nearly every level, upping both the production value (thanks to Ryan Adams and Kings of Leon producer Ethan Johns and fellow indie folk darlings Mumford & Sons) and the songwriting.
  2. I Speak Because I Can feels more professional than its predecessor, yet the album as a whole fails to capture the emotional power of Alas, I Cannot Swim.
  3. Her sophomore effort, I Speak Because I Can, finds Marling, still only 20, shrugging off virtually all traces of girlishness and wide-eyed charm, instead delving into darkly elemental, frequently morbid folk. And yet, astonishingly, the expected growing pains never come.
  4. On I Speak Because I Can, her great leap forward after 2008's captivating Mercury-nominated debut, Marling deploys an archaic folk patois with convincing gravitas. [Apr 2010, p.118]
  5. 60
    It's almost as if the quieter tracks allow her to relax, while the full band numbers--fleshed out rather over-eagerly by a group containing several Mumfords and a Whale--subdue and constrain her. [Apr 2010, p.101]
  6. 80
    Marling's second album is one of staggering maturity. An old-school folk album of the best sort. [Apr 2010, p.92]
  7. At her best, she takes PJ Harvey and Nick Drake back to their primordial folk roots, evoking mean sex in overgrown glens and casual farmhand violence.
  8. I Speak Because I Can remains a stunning performance to leave haircuts and ex-boyfriends alike trailing in its wake.
  9. I Can maintains its mystery and poetic obfuscation upon repeat listens. I Can would make for sublime coffee-shop fodder, except that Marling's music and especially her exquisitely wrought words reward,
  10. Marling's sophomore album takes that template [in "Alas I Cannot Swim"] and over it foward with grace, sorrow, and maturity. [Spring 2010, p.70]
  11. I Speak Because I Can is, without doubt, an album to really delve into, and one to lose yourself in for hours. Added to that, it asserts Marling as one of this country's most talented young songwriters; our Conor Oberst or our David Berman.
  12. 70
    Her stormy folk songs (which, on occasion, recall PJ Harvey's) are primal and dark, crammed with ancient mythology and portentous warnings.
  13. I Speak Because I Can is an album of elegance and brilliance. Marling has developed from her debut, and her voice has grown both physically and lyrically.
  14. The result is her first triumph: a collection of literary and emotional songs to have you whooping with joy or fighting off tears, with tunes that deliver new riches with each listen.
  15. She found it in herself to make yet another gorgeous, melancholy, old-souled record.
  16. What makes Marling engaging is that her music presents scenarios without deliberately sounding like poetry or art. Her songs do not emphasize the beauty of sounds or musicality of words so much as clip insightful observations from conversations.
  17. With I Speak Because I Can, that argument may now end. Though just 20, it doesn't appear within her scope to make an outright bad album, and here we are shown a few more glimpses of her gift, but yet not an overwhelming outpouring of it.
  18. Marling combines craft, instinct, and emotion for a collection of tunes that showcase a variety of mostly acoustic moods but coalesce into a hushed, beguiling whole.
  19. Where the album triumphs though is the crystalline clarity of the songs, their titanic emotional wallop and Marling's quite exquisite delivery.
  20. Her second album is an enchanting collection of beautifully raw songs, the faint trace of tape-hiss in the quieter moments combined with the rootsy feel of songs.
  21. I Speak Because I Can is composed of mature, sophisticated but relatable songs, performed as only Marling can perform them, showcasing not only a broader vocal range and more intricate guitar parts than on her previous album, but a new breadth of experience, resulting in a balanced album that can sound as enshrouded in shadow as it does enlightened.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 45 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 7
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 7
  3. Negative: 0 out of 7
  1. Nov 5, 2010
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. the folk and pop perfection of this year is Laura Marling...her incredible and amazing new album...shine...she is so talent and her voice is really beautiful...! this album is a masterpiece! Full Review »
  2. Sep 10, 2010
    Laura has a way to connect to her listeners on an emotional level that mainstream songs do not have today. Her songwriting is excellent and it some songs witty and even funny. Her voice is soothing and the guitar is mellow. Definitely worth a listen. Full Review »
  3. May 28, 2013
    Alas I Cannot Swim, was a record who's creator clearly felt torn between two places: being a London teenager and being a contemporary folk singer. It's fair to say that the folk came through a lot stronger on many of the tracks. However, it is unmistakably a teenager's album. Some lines like "If he [God] made in his image me then he's a failure too" and "Mom thinks that you're sad/ And that you're living alone/ And your friends think if you're sad/ You should call them more" they're remarkably insightful, true and a clever examination of a teenager's life, and mature, but not necessarily wise. Enter I Speak Because I Can. The older and wiser sister of Alas I Cannot Swim. It feels like twenty, thirty, even forty years older. But there's a youth about it, a freshness.

    This record encapsulates the sound of times gone by alongside a thin but precious streak of the future, that may one day come into realisation. Our teenage singer has become a woman, and her music, cold, sparse and delicately beautiful resonates throughout the album. The places in society and the role of women, and humans, are a central topic. Opener Devil's Spoke makes reference to king Odysseus, while Rambling Man alludes to Catherine of Aragon. Made By Maid describes a "babe atop a log" saved by a maid. The child grows up under her watchful eye, only to "blame me for every wrong ever he made". While these songs all take root from some catalytic piece of literature, it feels as though Marling relates with every character she brings into her musical idiom.

    I Speak Because I Can, the tumultuous closing track that swells from whisper to roar, draws inspiration from Penelope, the abandoned wife of King Odysseus: "My husband left me last night/ Left me a poor a lonely wife/ And I cooked the meals and he got the life/ And now I'm just out for the rest of my time" where inspiration is taken from, it feels like the result could be as much Marling's own perfectly phrased biographical statement "I speak because I can/ To anyone I trust enough to listen"

    That line itself sums up I Speak Because I Can as an album: Marling trusts those who'll listen to understand what is said, plain and true. Her crystalline delivery and thorny lyrics opening up a gift, to put it pretentiously. It's a wonderful statement in itself: music at its best is music that is listened to, not heard.
    Full Review »