Laura Marling’s soft, folksy voice is back as she is releasing her sixth album, Semper Femina, on March 10, which explores society’s views on sexuality and gender.
The delicate vocals and insightful lyrics take you to a place very different to London. You are transported to sunny southern California, to the very place Marling wrote the album – out on the road.
At a press conference, Marling said: “The title comes from a Virgil poem ‘varium et mutabile semper femina’ and the translation is ‘fickle and changeable, always this woman’, so it’s better off as just ‘always woman’.”
She explains that when she started writing the album she was trying to get a sense of what it is like to experience something through the eyes of what we are accustomed to.
What she means by this is that we, as a society, are used to seeing women through men’s eyes, but Marling realised that the more powerful thing to do was to look at women through women’s eyes and so changed the direction of Semper Femina.
In the song ‘Wild Fire’ she sings: “You always say you love me most when I don’t know I’m being seen / Maybe someday, when God takes me away / I’ll understand what the fuck that means.”
Each song is gentle and thoughtful, but the album lacks the more upbeat, energetic and catchy songs that her first album ‘Alas I cannot swim’ gained its success from. If you are expecting songs like ‘Rambling Man’ or ‘Ghosts’, then you may be disappointed.
However, Marling was 18 when she wrote her first album and now, at 27, her writing has become more sophisticated.
She explains that her favourite poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, was the reason she got to writing this album.
“I was researching his life when I was writing a libretto for an opera and he was dressed as a girl until he was eight, which had a profound effect on his relationship to women and made him an obsessive woman-fancier, as it were. So it was his misguided perception of feminity that led me to investigate more,” she said.
Living in America for the past two years also influenced her song writing. Marling explains that she loves America and finds America very infuriating for the same reason:
“I love them because they give a lot of value to artists and that’s quite nice if you’ve devoted your career to being an artist but it also gives a very strange over-the-top reverence to people who live fairly self-indulgent lives and demand to be called artists.
“That represents my own inner tussle, is it an indulgence or is it a compulsion?
“America gave me a bit more freedom to indulge in that compulsion to create music. Funnily enough because I was there not to do that – but I got pulled into it.”
Marling has released three singles from Semper Femina; ‘Wild Fire’, ‘Soothing’ and ‘Next Time’.