Once I Was an Eagle - Laura Marling
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 91 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 82 out of 91
  2. Negative: 7 out of 91

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  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. 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.
  4. 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
  5. Sep 6, 2013
    Without a doubt a masterpiece of an album. Laura has always poured her heart and soul into every offering and in that way, Once I Was An Eagle is no different. There is a lot of heart here. But she ultimately feels empowered on this album. She sneers, she laments and she offers advice, all from a superior vantage point (hence eagle). She has always sounded like an old soul in a young body (she's only 23), but with this record she skillfully balances wisdom with reckless abandon. There is immediacy here, there is the odd bit of savage six-string banging and as always there are subtly beautiful pieces. It feels entirely cohesive, honest, well thought out and well risked. Best album of the year for me. Expand
  6. Jun 12, 2013
    Laura flies low, under the radar. Since my initiation to her music on "From the Basement" where she performed "Your Only Doll (Dora)" and blew me away. Since, I've managed to see her 10 times live, though I live "far away" in California. But not apparently so far since she's moved to LA. (She responds by returning to London for "hundreds" of surprise performances. She also wrote some songs for the Royal Shakespeare Company. I've seen her perform many of these songs live. Now I can try to realize from the Album that and how all this music comes as a whole. Because this is an "Album" as it was in the old days. There's a lot to digest in this album, but that makes the listen sound like a challenge. Laura is a great singer, guitar player, composer, and Performer. It just gets better. Expand
  7. Jan 26, 2014
    I enjoyed the album. The lyrics are mature, her voice and singing is great to listen to, and the music is serene. The production is also appreciated. I specifically liked how the first half felt like one big track, as every end of a song had the same music of the next one's beginning.

    However, i'm not sure if i'll be remembering any of this by the end of the year. While it's pretty
    good, i can't consider it a 'masterful work' like some seem to call it. Expand
  8. Nov 19, 2013
    The only artist whose progress from a precocious 17-yr old to a mature 23-yr old, I have followed fervently. And yet again, she doesn't disappoint. "Once I was an Eagle", is a progressively more mature and an elaborate album from this virtuous folk musician. This album for once and for all corroborates, the parallels drawn by critics to- Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan.
    For this album she
    teamed up with Producer/Percussionist Ethan Johns and cellist Ruth De Tuberville, the trio have a characteristic dark intimacy that perfectly compliments the songs that are acerbic and emotional.
    The first 7 songs form the first part of the album, are segued together as each song morphs into another and are impossible to pick apart. The profundity of her very cogitative lyrics, that first catapulted her to fame, is even stronger on this one. In the title song "I was an Eagle" she draws an analogy of an eagle as herself and dove as her hapless lover, which establishes her as a very clever poet. With each song the metaphorical analysis of her waning romance immerses the listener so deep as he/she is bound to tag along into a surreal journey of empathetic catharsis. We can also see her guitar playing prowess in "Little Love Caster".
    The second part of the album starts with an interlude, where you again see the wonderful trinity of the three immensely talented musicians. Then what follows is another spell of brilliance, with songs like "Where can I go?" and "Once", completely taking over the listener and is bound to draw in more easy-listening fans, thanks to its beguiling tune and Marling's distinctive speak-singing.
    This album is redolent of her imperious character, as a person, with songs like "Master Hunter" substantiating that hypothesis. Some may argue of intrinsic androgynous element in the album, but I for one, don't really find it so, as she is just asserting her stand on things. I also find critics all over, drawing out correspondence of the album to her past lovers, I feel that it is a direct encroachment on her privacy, because let's be clear here, she is a poet (yes she is) and personally speaking, contrary to popular belief, very rarely real-life experiences give rise to poetry or in this case lyrics, her maturity in every album remains a testimony to that.

    Let's face it, yet again, her brilliance will go unnoticed as she can never stoop down to the "POP" (Programming pun here) level. But with 4 impressive albums at this young age, she is going to be a legend, not implying she isn't already, but I am talking of being in the ranks of Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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

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
    Marling is the gutsiest of chamber folkies. [No.99, p.57]
  2. Jun 12, 2013
    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
    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.