Laura Marling – The Lowry, Salford – 12th April 2010

Posted on April 18, 2010

5


written for High Voltage

Laura Marling delivered a spectacular set of folk songs tonight at The Lowry, and left her audience in no doubt that she has the talent and ability to continue her ascent in music. Her vocal delivery is excellent but she also possesses the more difficult skill of being able to write brilliant songs with captivating melodies, and this should ensure a long and successful career for her.

She played 17 songs tonight and finding a weak track among them is an unenviable task, given the quality on display. Her touring band are superb, highlighting the benefits that come with signing to a major label. They have an acute understanding that less is very often more, and they refuse to overplay, instead offering the kind of subtlety needed to complement Marling’s voice. The instrumentation was varied, with harmonium, keys, cello, bass, drums and acoustic guitar all employed, but none was at the forefront, allowing the quality of the song writing to really shine through. Marling’s voice is reminiscent of many great female folk artists of the past (Joan Baez, Sandy Denny, Joni Mitchell), and some of her melodies are indicative of Bob Dylan’s earlier work. She has quite clearly been fed a great diet of folk music throughout her life and it shows.

She opened with ‘Devil’s Spoke’ which instantly confirmed that she has the capacity to write enthralling songs. With its speedy chord progression and wide-ranging vocal it impresses greatly, and works well as an opening track. She also played a new song that was “written in the last 7 days”, highlighting her unquenchable thirst for writing new material to add to her cannon. ‘Alpha Shallows’ was the stand-out track of the evening, with a forceful chord progression, dramatic drum beat and lush backing vocals, all coming together to create a dynamic track. Similarly impressive was ‘Alas I Cannot Swim’, with its waltz time signature and delicate vocals. Marling manages to bring folk in line with modern music, which is a fantastic achievement in itself, and sings dark and honest lyrics that intrigue the listener. She may not have the same level of street credibility that some of the other female singers from the UK have but she stands alone as the best new folk artist.

One of the most significant and impressive strings to Marling’s bow is her ability to sing with excellence whilst finger picking intricately. This is a difficult skill but one which she achieves with ease. She also tackles an array of sounds, with some songs written in dark, minor sounding keys, and some which incorporate much brighter pop progressions, allowing her set to stay diverse and exciting, and proving that she has a great depth of musical knowledge.

Marling possesses such an exceptional ability to create superb songs that she belies her tender years and is appreciated by people of all ages. Her voice and stage presence also show extreme maturity and it is quite clear that she has been working towards her current position in the music industry for the best part of her life. Indeed, when introducing her cover of Neil Young’s ‘The Needle and The Damage Done’ here tonight, she said it was the first song that she learned to play when she was just 4. This kind of life-long dedication to her craft is now paying dividends and it was difficult to find fault in the performance. Of course, being signed to a major label is helpful, the quality of her touring band proved that, but she must take great credit for the excellence of her music.

Set List

Devil’s Spoke

Hope In The Air

Rambling Man

Ghosts

Blackberry Stone

New One

The Needle and The Damage Done (Neil Young cover)

Failure

Night Terror

Rest in the Bed

Made By Maid

Goodbye England (Covered in Snow)

What He Wrote

Alpha Shallows

Alas I Cannot Swim

My Manic and I

I Speak Because I Can

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Posted in: Music