Some artists are worth the 254 kilometre journey from Exeter to London. Laura Marling is one of those, as Exeposé Music hop aboard the Megabus to catch the British folk songstress perform at an exclusive student press conference at Goldsmiths University in South-East London. With the guiding hand of BBC Radio 1’s Jen Long and a number of the nation’s other student newspapers, the afternoon proved a unique insight into the workings of her latest upcoming album, Semper Femina, and far more than a cheap promo of Marling’s impending 6th record.
Marling cut a rather shy figure as she took to her stool, acoustic guitar in hand. “The title comes from a Virgil poem,” she whispers, detailing the meaning behind the album’s title, with its best translation reading as “always a woman”. In fact, the idea of feminism and femininity is a theme that is largely apparent on the new record, with Marling spending much of the previous year involving herself with her very own podcast series entitled ‘Reversal of the Muse’. A project that has seen her interview the likes of Dolly Parton as she questions the relationship between feminine creativity and the production of music and why there aren’t more women working in studios.
While she has always been a clever and personal lyricist…she truly has developed
Commenting on this Marling spoke of the need to “have a more balanced understanding of the world, because these are the mediums by which we understand the world around us now” and the fact that “there’s a lot more to catch up on for women in this industry”. This is clearly a topic Marling is very passionate about and one she has looked to address on Semper Femina, as she looks “to keep asking questions about these things.”
Marling comes across every bit as intelligent as you’d expect from such a nuanced song-writer, as she shares her very own literary inspirations and in particular, her love for poetry. “Now that I have my own emotional experiences, many of them, I like drawing on them and delving into poetry more, as well as literary fictional/fantasy,” she openly shares, citing Rainer Maria Rilke as her “favourite poet.”
It seems clear that this is a far more mature and formed Marling. Whilst she has always been a clever and personal lyricist, it appears from conversation that she truly has developed and is now reflecting upon her own stories and influences from a decade of touring, her move to America and a life growing up in the public sphere. “I think whereas Short Movie was more based on a landscape, this album was more based in thought,” she ponders when comparing the thought-process behind Semper Femina in comparison to 2015’s Short Movie. Something that is unsurprising when you contrast the fixed LA location recording of her previous album to the fact that Semper Femina was recorded whilst on the road. An aspect that has contributed enormously to the meandering quality of her intimate and heartfelt vocals on news tracks such as ‘Nouel’, ‘Wild Fire’ and ‘Nothing Not Nearly’. All three being stark, contemplative folk tracks and some of Marling’s finest work to date.
the blossoming of a mature artist
From just spending an hour listening to Marling it was clear that this was a folk musician who despite a successful decade long career was still searching for her place in the muddled music industry and still posing necessary, thought-provoking questions on femininity, literature and how important it is to reflect on one’s own life and work. Whilst on the surface she appears a calm, quiet and complex character, it is when she performs so majestically that we can gain the greatest insight into the psyche of Marling, coupling her angelic voice with airy folk chords to devastating effect. Semper Femina looks to be the blossoming of a mature artist, who’s creative ability is ever ascending.
Laura Marling is playing Exeter’s Lemon Grove on 26th March and her sixth studio album, Semper Femina, was released on 10th March 2017.