Review this album
May 28, 2013Alas 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/ AndAlas 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.… Expand
Sep 10, 2010Laura 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.