A dramatic and intelligent singer/songwriter, Laura Marling has been a shining beacon of British talent since she appeared with her alt-folk debut in 2008. At the age of 25, Marling is on the eve of releasing her fifth album and her fast building discography has currently been awarded three Mercury prize nominations and a Brit award. Teasing her devoted fan base with cryptic clues of the direction her new album will take, ‘Short Movie’ is perhaps Marling’s most assured and steady release to date. The predecessor ‘Once I Was An Eagle’ began with a sweeping, near-acapella four track introduction which could be likened to quietly stepping into a room whereas ‘Short Movie’ begins with a cinematic, consuming ‘Warrior’.
Similar to ‘Devil’s Spoke’ in structure, Marling has found a power in the quiet as she coos about the lacklustre of a partner and the futility of her own existence as the winds whip and howl around her. There is a documentary sense to ‘False Hope’ which moves from the religious iconography and fictitious subject matter of past effort and delves into the fragility and personal confusion that Marling had to confront during her time adapting to her new found American habitat whilst allowing her to showcase a newfound appreciation of the merger between rock and folk.
The whole album has this dramatised stature and feels like an extension of previous single ‘Master Hunter’. The warbling guitar introductions of ‘Walk Alone’ seems readymade to soundtrack a piece of hazy sunshine indie cinema yet Laura’s raw honesty allows it depth to expand at its own pace without ever losing its purpose. Once again the guitar remains at the heart of the operation supported by Marling’s characteristic vocal which shines on the near-acapella rendition of ‘Strange’.
Although this album feels intent and forceable in terms of its new direction, there is sense of reflection on the multi-layered percussive ‘Gurdjieffs’s Daughter’ which is supported by various musicians as Laura takes the lead of a downtrodden folk outfit and harks back to the days of ‘Alas I Cannot Swim’ in particular ‘Cross Your Fingers’. The new direction comes to perfect crescendo on ‘I Feel Your Love’ a breathy, piercing balladic number with a strong and sturdy instrumental bridge which Marling allows herself to perform dramatic vocal acrobatics.
Everything Laura Marling has released thus far has felt confident yet controlled whereas here she seems to adopt this sense of wanderlust and guides us through her new surroundings, experiences and interactions in a startling and self assured mannerism with a lyrical tongue of the purest gold.