Laura Marling’s seventh full-length LP was released three months before its due date in the belief that people could do with some light entertainment. In this release, the thirty-year-old singer/songwriter creates something close to perfection with her almost overwhelming charm. Defined by a strong feminist backbone, the elegant lyricism crystalised in this album contains a message that is neither diluted nor obscured and should stand out as a vivid beam of light to all its listeners.
The first track, Alexandra questions the life of the eponymous Leonard Cohen character, who was perhaps underwritten in his song Alexandra Leaving. Marling’s writing, subtle but cutting, comprises a humane response to a woman who deserves a voice – “You can try to help me understand, If she left you like a woman, Did you feel like a man?” The listener and the fictional daughter, to which this album is dedicated, are acutely reminded that Alexandra did indeed live a life outside of her male lover.
The following track, Held Down, denotes the aching, brutal temporality associated with lost love, as illustrated by the line “It’s a cruel kinda twist that you’d leave like this, Just drop my wrist and say, ‘Well that’s us done’”. This severance of relations is later mirrored by the protagonist’s boyfriend/husband, a writer, being directly asked that she not be used as an inspiration for his work. The message is simple but will make your chest tighten – that love is a sickness cured by time. This notion resurfaces most vividly in The End of the Affair – “Shake hands and say goodnight, I love you, goodbye, Now let me live my life”.
Away from its many lyrical witticisms, Song For Our Daughter maintains a stripped-back production, accompanying the singer’s vocal flutterings with a fitting grace. The album provides what is required to be emotive, without spilling over into lyrical hyperbole, grandiose string arrangements or cloying vocals. The title track perhaps best exemplifies this. It is quiet, but full of life and even finds time to be amusing – “With your clothes on the floor, Taking advice from some old balding bore, You’ll ask yourself – did I want this at all?”
The beauty of the album is as a vignette of a mother and a daughter negotiating the challenging world around them. The songwriting is delicate where it needs to be, poignant and heartbreaking elsewhere. The music is simply timeless.