It’s hard to believe that, at only 25, British singer/songwriter Laura Marling has released five albums. She’s clearly got a lot to write about. Inspired by a soul-searching stint in L.A., her self-produced latest album moves slightly away from the acoustic sound that got her and peers like Noah and the Whale and Mumford and Sons pegged as nouveau-folk revivalists. With its hushed intensity, Short Movie isn’t exactly a play for the pop charts akin to Mumford’s banjo-less recent single, but there’s a welcome new edge to Marling’s previous fragile-folkie vibe.
Lauded for her lilting, Joni-style vocals, Marling rarely gets enough credit for her guitar chops. More electrified this time around, like the pealing melody on first single False Hope, her guitar-playing is more assured than ever. But too much of the record lacks that song’s percussive drive all the pretty singing and unhurried tempos start to blend into a tepid listen, and the experimental near-spoken-word turn on Strange is just, well, strange.
That said, Marling, much like the Weather Station and Jennifer Castle (similar local artists with superior albums), offers a welcome modern spin on an age-old craft.
Top track: False Hope