Once I Was an Eagle - Laura Marling
Metascore
86

Universal acclaim - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 36 out of 36
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 36
  3. Negative: 0 out of 36
  1. Jun 18, 2013
    70
    Marling is the gutsiest of chamber folkies. [No.99, p.57]
  2. Jun 12, 2013
    74
    It’s easily the most charming she’s ever been--she's no master hunter, but she doesn't need to be.
  3. Jun 5, 2013
    90
    There are two primary things that make Once I Was An Eagle take flight: Lyrics and progression, which together make the album intelligent, confident, and, perhaps most importantly, recursive.
  4. Jun 5, 2013
    90
    Everything feels full and complete, with each song taking a life of it’s own, while still contributing equally as much to the larger concept.
  5. Jun 4, 2013
    100
    Once I Was An Eagle represents a bold, adventurous step forward that’s resulted in her most fulfilling work yet.
  6. 91
    Once I Was an Eagle is a singular achievement: a haunting record, peopled with aural ghosts that come gradually crawling from out of the grooves.
  7. Jun 3, 2013
    81
    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.
  8. Eagle is definitely Marling’s most considered work, and most of that comes simply from the fact she’s stripped away a lot of the decoration, and yet ultimately it feels easy for her, if not a little predictable.
  9. May 31, 2013
    90
    Once I Was an Eagle is a bold work that, in theory, shouldn’t work--a lengthy, near-concept album about emotional availability--but Marling makes it into one of the year’s essential releases.
  10. May 29, 2013
    80
    Although the songs carry recurring tropes of eagles, devils and the sea, as well as her signature intricate guitar picking, the most haunting aspect is--considering this accomplishment--realizing the potential that is yet to come.
  11. May 29, 2013
    80
    It's a warm, lightly psychedelic sound reminiscent of British strum god Bert Jansch and the quieter moments on Led Zeppelin III, less a soundtrack for Sunday brunch and more a place to get lost in, though our host herself isn't interested in hiding.
  12. 90
    Both as a songwriter and as a performer, Laura Marling has never soared so majestically.
  13. May 28, 2013
    85
    The result is not only her most honest and personal album to date but also her most affecting.
  14. May 28, 2013
    80
    You’d be hard-pressed to name another songwriter who sounded so fully formed at such a tender age.
  15. May 28, 2013
    90
    For its cohesive tone and the ease with which it plumbs the darkest recesses of Marling's consciousness, Once I Was an Eagle is close to a masterpiece, a heavenly composition with just enough hell to keep things from feeling too familiar.
  16. May 28, 2013
    80
    Everything just gets better and better with Marling.
  17. May 28, 2013
    70
    Her voice is the headliner: Miked so close you can smell the cigarettes on her breath, it's sultry, wise, rueful and unapologetic, connecting a 1960s singer-songwriter tradition to the ache of the now.
  18. May 28, 2013
    75
    With Once I Was An Eagle, she's finally made a record that matches the magnitude of her vision, and puts her well ahead of almost any twentysomething singer-songwriter peer working today.
  19. 90
    Once I Was An Eagle sets a high bar.
  20. 80
    With a lilting piano, soft strums, and the pats of a bongo at most, Once I Was An Eagle strips the art of Marling down to her barest.
  21. May 28, 2013
    70
    Marling is an old soul through and through, and her remarkably timeless voice, idiosyncratic lyrics, and increasingly impressive guitar chops help to elevate the album's less immediate moments, and while some may argue that her increasingly Americanized, Pacific coast folk-pop can feel a little like fan fiction, it doesn't make it any less enjoyable to sink your toes into.
  22. May 28, 2013
    91
    Eagle is a master class in creation.
  23. May 24, 2013
    80
    While her peers may be filling arenas with banjo anthems, Marling has long freed herself from that particular pigeonhole and presents another collection of songs that showcases her astounding talent.
  24. May 24, 2013
    75
    Once I Was An Eagle is Marling's most fully-realized release yet, a quasi-conceptual record that traces a path from naivety through harsh experience and eventually to consequent enlightenment.
  25. May 24, 2013
    90
    The narrative drawn by Marling throughout is at times heart-stopping, segues and recurrent motifs creating effortless enjambment.
  26. 100
    Once I Was an Eagle is a work that demands to be taken as a whole, another reminder of the peculiar power of the album form, despite frequent premature declarations of its redundancy.
  27. 85
    Marling has delivered Once I Was an Eagle with a charisma lacking in most of her peers, and the poise of a far older hand.
  28. May 23, 2013
    100
    Once I Was An Eagle is a masterpiece, and, at 23, she’s still only getting started.
  29. May 23, 2013
    80
    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.
  30. May 22, 2013
    90
    It’s a work that’s beautifully single minded, but may be a little too much of an undertaking for some. What’s inescapable is that it’s the sound of a person bravely questioning her place in the world, often in inspired fashion.
  31. May 21, 2013
    90
    It’s the longest and best Laura Marling record yet.
  32. May 21, 2013
    90
    Rarely since the Laurel Canyon heyday of CSNY, Jackson Browne et al, has the confessional mode been quite so unashamedly mined for artistic ore. [Jun 2013, p.68]
  33. May 21, 2013
    80
    As well executed as the latter half is, it can feel a mite unsatisfying compared to the stripped-down stuff that sits at the top of the album. [Jun 2013, p.85]
  34. May 21, 2013
    80
    Once I Was An Eagle is entirely Laura Marling's trip--beautiful, heartfelt, searching, sublime, and thrillingly open-ended. [Jun 2013, p.92]
  35. May 21, 2013
    90
    Without doubt, this is one of the folk albums of the year.
  36. May 21, 2013
    70
    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.
User Score
8.6

Universal acclaim- based on 92 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 11
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 11
  3. Negative: 0 out of 11
  1. May 28, 2013
    10
    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 theThis 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.
    Full Review »
  2. Jun 1, 2013
    9
    ‘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‘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’. Full Review »
  3. May 31, 2013
    10
    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 sophisticatedI 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. Full Review »