thu 18/08/2022

CD: Laura Marling - Short Movie | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Laura Marling - Short Movie

CD: Laura Marling - Short Movie

Introspective songstress reaches for her inner rock chick

The best singer-songwriters, you might say, survey life's experiences with a forensic eye. That’s certainly true of Laura Marling. Her new album Short Movie  chronicles the singer's recent stint in LA where she'd relocated for a couple of years. Marling's adventures are catalogued with a satisfying mix of introspection and free-form vibes. That, of course, was also partly true of her last offering, Once I Was an Eagle. The difference here is that her hopes and disappointments are expressed with a Seventies rawness that also hints at an inner rock-chick.

Artists rarely progress, though, without a couple of false starts: Here they are to be mainly found in the first half. The album starts confidentally enough with “Warrior”, which features impressive John Martyn-style guitar work. Next up, the telecaster guitars and rock rhythms of “False Hope” have a snarl that sits somewhere between PJ Harvey and Chrissie Hynde. But, after that, things start to meander. “Strange” simply sounds like some beatnik poetry mumbled over improvised chords.

Still, from track seven on the album's defiantly back on course. It’s not just the presence of Marling’s gorgeous melodies – and who couldn't love “Easy” with its Spanish chords with a breezy Californian melody – it's more how she blends all her influences. “Gurdjieff’s Daughter” is a particular treat. Gurdjieff was a kind of early 20th-century Russian mystic-cum-guru, and the song looks at advice and those who would give it. Intriguingly, it does so over chords that could have been lifted from Dire Strait's "Sultans of Swing".

The mystical theme continues on the title track, whose subject is a frazzled "shaman" whom Marling ran into one night. His motto, apparenty, was "life's a short movie, man". As the singer tries to appreciate what life must be like for him she suddenly feels humble and insignificant. It's that sense of wonder that, ultimately, makes Short Movie such a rich experience.

Overleaf: watch the video for "Short Movie"

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