Once I Was an Eagle - Laura Marling
Once I Was an Eagle Image

Universal acclaim - based on 36 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 91 Ratings

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  • Summary: The fourth full-length studio release for the British singer-songwriter was produced by Ethan Johns.
  • Record Label: Ribbon Music
  • Genre(s): Folk, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Indie Folk
  • More Details and Credits »
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 36 out of 36
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 36
  3. Negative: 0 out of 36
  1. Jun 4, 2013
    Once I Was An Eagle represents a bold, adventurous step forward that’s resulted in her most fulfilling work yet.
  2. May 28, 2013
    Eagle is a master class in creation.
  3. 90
    Both as a songwriter and as a performer, Laura Marling has never soared so majestically.
  4. Jun 3, 2013
    It’s expansive and ambitious, and divorced of all the tweedy preening and aw-shucks raggediness the idea of “folk” has accumulated in recent years. It's dark, it’s angry, it’s even sexy, in a sly, subtle way.
  5. May 28, 2013
    You’d be hard-pressed to name another songwriter who sounded so fully formed at such a tender age.
  6. May 23, 2013
    There are a couple of moments where she still feels like the sum total of a very tasteful record collection, where she struggles to make herself heard over the echoes of Joni Mitchell and Dylan's thin wild mercury sound. More often, though, she cuts through her influences, and rings out loud and clear; when she does, it's a very diverting sound indeed.
  7. May 21, 2013
    There’s definitely still some fine moments in what follows ["Little Love Caster" and "Devil's Resting Place"]--there’s certainly plenty more of everything in a record that stretches towards the hour mark-- but it never quite reaches those early heights again, which are possibly as high as Marling has reached in her career thus far.

See all 36 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 11
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 11
  3. Negative: 0 out of 11
  1. May 28, 2013
    This album is a flawless work of art with a myriad of merging themes and a cyclical return to the same chords used from beginning, in the album closer, 'Saved These Words', one of the highlights.
    I recommend: Opening medley, When Were You Happy? (And How Long Has That Been) and Saved These Words.
  2. May 28, 2013
    (Written for an English assignment)

    Marling and her guitar are back again, and like drips of water steadily becoming a stream, Take The
    Night Off begins. Marling's voice is more enchanting than ever (long gone is the slightly irritating estuary English from parts of Alas, I Cannot Swim) The easy, soothing introduction to Eagle… makes way for frenetic percussion and rising and falling guitar chords, reflective of Ms. Marling's new found avian alter-ego. The first four songs interlink, in the style of an Indian Raga, twisting a turning, changing shape and form, as Marling's liquid voice releases lyrical gem after lyrical gem.
    It's true, as many reviewers have stated, that the first half of the album (Take The Night Off to Devil's Resting Place) is more united thematically than the second. However, it's in the second half that you realise that Marling must have some Well of the Muses stored in her garden, because she draws from so many emotions and viewpoints. Delicate strands and ideas all pulling together, bringing Eagle… into a second dimension.
    She has clear influences, yes. Something most reviewers mention, and she's been called a "third-rate Joni Mitchell" by one reviewer, but it's not where she draws from, it's where she takes them to. Master Hunter clearly alludes to Tangled Up In Blue, Bob Dylan's ode to love. Little Bird has bossa nova influences from time to time, and Undine has Blue Grass touches with it's lilting guitar mastery. However, the lyrics transcend her forbears, and the melody rises to the occasion. A masterpiece.
  3. Nov 15, 2013
    It's November so I think it's safe for me to say this is my favorite album of this year. It has everything, the voice, the lyrics, the music, it's great. The world needs more music like this. Expand
  4. May 31, 2013
    I had never heard about Laura, so I gave her a try and wow I was surprised. Beautiful melodies, vocals and lyrics that form a sophisticated and clearly epic album that could become a classic. Expand
  5. Jan 17, 2014
    A big album. A bit too long for so heavy musics... Anyway, Laura Marling made her best work in Once I Was an Eagle. The first four songs introduce the person in her aura, which is softened after the Intelude and broken in the last song. One of the best albuns of 2013 Expand
  6. Jun 1, 2013
    ‘Once I Was An Eagle’ is the fourth album from Laura Marling and with producer Ethan Johns they have created a masterpiece. Shy in her live performances on record this English rose turns the spotlight on herself and opens up in a way that is both honest and brave. The album, split into two sections by an interlude, is a stripped back affair, just guitar and cello with the occasional flurry of drums or keys allowing the listener easier access to Marling’s exquisite voice and confessional lyrics. The opening suite of seven songs manage to blend almost seamlessly and yet amazingly retain their individuality. Guitar motifs crop up throughout as Marling sings of loss, heartbreak and naivety and it is in this first section that all the comparisons to Joni Mitchell will be made. But there are also traces of Dylan especially in the ‘Master Hunter’ with its Tangled Up In Blue/It Ain’t Me Babe hybrid. The second half of the record is closer to her previous work and has more elements of Dylan but also nods to The Band, Velvet Underground, acoustic Zepplin and Aimee Mann. It is less raw than the first half but only just and the songs are slightly more fleshed out with instruments but the quality remains the same. Marling has the ability in her voice to range from angelic highs to whiskey soaked rasps that add real dynamics to these tales of relationships gone awry. But I think the most striking thing here is how mature the content and the song writing are, let us not forget that Marling is only 23. With an album this good it’s hard to know how she will ever be able to top it but for now we can just savour her ‘Blood On The Tracks’. Expand
  7. Jul 14, 2013
    'Once I was an Eagle' seems to be a somewhat aftermath of Marling's previous effort 'A Creature I Don't Know' (an album which has grown to be one of my favourites, not just by her). The overall production and style is reminiscent of her third album, but with a noticeably more minimal approach, notably in the first half of the album. The opening four tracks merge seamlessly together to create a 16 minute soundscape centred on her and her guitar, and this continues...throughout the whole album, with sparse instrumentation which continues and continues, in fact, this does not change until the 10th track 'Where Can I Go?' where we are introduced to a light drumkit and pretty organ.
    Her lyrics on the other hand never cease to impress me, the way she takes characters form her own life and her own thoughts and reflects all these in her songs is unique to her and shows her influences from the folk greats. Her ongoing maturity as a songwriter is evident in this album, contrasted with her debut album 'Alas I Cannot Swim'. Not only her lyrics, but her voice has also grown up with the music she produces, and the way she presents her person through the microphone could not have been any different for this album.
    The low point of the album for me is definitely 'Little Love Caster'; this seems to be a very tedious and almost self indulgent noddle on the guitar, strongly reminiscent of the previous album's track 'Night After Night'. Despite the interesting musical ideas and lyrics, the natural sound effects seem to be an overly pushed gimmick in my opinion.
    My favourite track is definitely 'Where Can I Go?', where she explores the lyrical theme that suits her best, harkening to her younger past and acknowledging a 'curse' and constantly addressing the listener. The guitar plays few chords and is backed up by a beautiful organ part which swells along with the song to the end, but doesn't build to a climax.
    I believe several tracks like 'Once' and 'Master Hunter' save this album from being a lackluster affair of banality, but it's the contrast between the near humdrum of tracks like 'You Know' and 'Devil's Resting Place' (seems more than just a reprise of 'Master Hunter') and these more interesting, adventurous songs that make this album the intriguing piece of art that it is, showing Marling's diverse guitar playing, captivating lyrics and her massively developed sound credit to Ethan Johns in the progression from Charlie Fink's stuck-in-the-world-of-just-folk production.

See all 11 User Reviews

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