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Laura Marling's stark analysis of the female psyche

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Laura Marling, "Semper Femina"
  • Laura Marling, "Semper Femina"
British folkie Laura Marling has been compared to Joni Mitchell so often, it only seemed natural that a concept album on relationships among women would come from her. Yet Semper Femina, her sixth release at age 27, is less a feminist manifesto than a stark analysis of the female psyche that befits Marling’s unblinking gaze.

Prolific producer/arranger Blake Mills expands the arrangements beyond Marling’s self-produced 2015 album Short Movie, but only reaches the complexity of the work she recorded with former producer Ethan Johns on a handful of tracks, like the first single, “Soothing.” That is not necessarily bad, as a sorrowful track like “Always This Way” almost demands minimalism. In the same way Mitchell fans can decide whether Blue or Hejira is her high-water mark, Marling fans get to choose from a variety of masterpieces catching the artist in different life phases.
File next to: Julien Baker, Joni Mitchell, Sharon Van Etten

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