Music Reviews
Song for Our Daughter

Laura Marling Song for Our Daughter

(Chrysalis Records) Rating - 9/10

If you’re a casual listener, Laura Marling’s latest album could be surprising in a handful of ways. Coming off a series of back to back good albums, 2016’s Semper Femina and 2018’s collaboration with Mike Lindsay entitled LUMP, you might not have expected another one only two years later. If you keep up with album releases, Marling’s decision to move the album up to an April release might have been unexpected. But what’s most surprising about Song for Our Daughter is how it’s her best work yet. It's a concise, caring, and beautiful letter to her future daughter. On the other hand, if you’ve been following Laura Marling’s career closely, this shouldn’t come as a surprise in the slightest. Since her debut in 2008, she’s been slowly building a catalog of great material, and this project finally acts as her most fully realized one yet.

Through calming arrangements and astute writing, Marling has created an album that’s immediate and unforgettable. With it’s swooning violins and warm acoustic guitars, the title track feels like a comfortable blanket in terms of instrumentation—one that feels lived in and gentle. The lyrics pointedly counter that, with lines about how a future daughter may have to deal with the same difficulties, discomforts, and traumas as the generations before. The combination is initially odd but clearly intentional, showing how quietness can act as a cover for internalized pain. The opener, Alexandra, has harmonies and wailing steel guitars which serve as a beautiful backing to Marling’s response to Leonard Cohen’s 2001 song Alexandra Leaving. Cohen’s writing is often smart and sensuous, but commonly views women as an object of affection or desire instead of trying to paint a full character. By using that framework, Marling envisions the titular character’s perspective in a wonderful way that pushes against Cohen’s one-sided framing.

While there are moments with more levity, Marling casts this world with a haunting backdrop of striking stories and superb instrumentation. It’s the rare album where a stripped-down approach entirely works, making these tales central and unmissable in their telling. Fortune is one of the great songs of the year, and it does only with fluttering acoustic guitars, steady strings, and subdued vocals. I don’t really like writing pieces or my reviews around myself, but this is the album I needed to hear in a time of great anxiety. It is peaceful and near-perfect in a way that I think many people could use right now. I think you should hear it.