On Oct. 7, SOhO Restaurant & Music Club will host Laura Marling, the star that set fire to the British Nu-Folk scene and danced in its flames. The singer-songwriter and musician launched her debut album, Alas, I Cannot Swim, at the tender age of 18 and was propelled to the vanguard of the acoustic-folk revival that arose in the mid-2000s alongside indie-folk contemporaries such as Noah and the Whale and Mumford & Sons. The 26-year-old has since received three Mercury Prize nominations for her first, second and fourth album, as well as the 2011 Brit Award for Best British Female Solo Artist and nominations for the same award in 2012, 2014 and 2016. Hailed as one of the greatest folk artists of our era, Marling grew up in the limelight, though she has never grown accustomed or attached to it.
A notably private individual, Marling’s Delphian lyrics tiptoe toward meaning and confession, yet they rarely fail to stop just short. Her sound has naturally progressed through each of her albums, woven into ever more textured melodies. Her fourth album, Once I Was an Eagle, gave way to a new stripped-back, minimalist approach: her guitar asserting its authority in the place of a band, her denuded vocals luxuriating in the space created by absence of instrumental drama. Once I Was an Eagle has been described as Marling’s quarter-life-crisis album, as well as one of the defining records of the 21st century. From her airy high notes to her low, melancholic warbles, Marling’s incredible versatility, insightful lyrics and penchant for storytelling have garnered awe from her audiences coast to coast.
In 2012, Marling made a bid to escape the celebrity that smothered her earlier years and establish roots for herself. She packed up her Shoreditch apartment, sold her clothes and furniture and bought a one-way ticket to Los Angeles. Geographically and mentally removed from the cacophony of fame, her sojourn on the West Coast became a period of exploration, soul-searching and “a fairly odd, specific kind of transcendental yoga.”
Marling’s most recent album, Short Movie, was completed upon her return to London in 2015 and marks a divergent path in her career towards a distinctive folk rock aesthetic. Marling’s father owned a recording studio, and she credits him with whittling her musical taste (that gears itself towards folk rock of the 1960s and ’70s). She describes his influence as “a blessing and a curse … I couldn’t slot myself into the age-appropriate genre.” Marling has said of her most recent album, “This record has a different heart. I never felt like I was of my own time. Now I feel young again.”
An acoustic revival-come-folk darling with five critically acclaimed albums under her belt, Laura Marling is moving from strength to strength. This September, she embarked upon another road trip/solo tour of North-West America, embracing her status as a nomadic troubadour migrating from town to town. Your chance to be a part of her journey is this coming Friday at 7:30 p.m.