Laura Marling, Smoke Fairies
May 23, 2010
Better than: trying to make sense out of any finales that were on TV last night.
Let me just say it right up front: Laura Marling is an amazing talent.
The native of the "quite beautiful" countryside of Hampshire, England is now 20 years old and on her first tour of the United States promoting her second album. And, while she enjoys nothing like the commercial success of, say, Taylor Swift, she is already making music that will stand the test of time and will be covered by folk artists for years to come.
Marling initially took the stage last night accompanied by a five-piece band (two members of which were from openers Smoke Fairies) and played a few songs of up-tempo folk rock. The songs were strong, the musicianship commendable, the lyrics sophisticated. But the sidemen (drummer, keyboardist/electric guitarist, cellist, bass, and banjo) soon left the stage, and the true phenomena of Ms. Marling became apparent.
Alone, looking off to some unknown point about the stage lighting, she played about a half dozen songs (including two written on this tour and played publically for the first time at this show) that truly showcased her supple voice and sophisticated finger-picking guitar skills.
Her total command of her instruments were apparent. So, too, was a maturity and stage presence that comes with absolute confidence in one's skills.
One song played during this segment of the show was a cover of Jackson Frank's "Blues Run the Course," which she told the audience was the song that "made her want to be a really good guitarist, better than all the boys" and her dad. And, in another reference to her dad, she related how "Goodbye England (Covered in Snow)" comes from the experience of her dad taking her as an 8-year-old to a hilltop overlooking the countryside.
"Bring me back here" were his "heavy" instructions to her, and it was clear the song takes her back when she plays it.
The band soon rejoined Marling, and, as she approached the end of the set, she told the audience that her band doesn't "do encores, and so, if you really want an encore, consider this to be the last song. Or the second-to-the-last song if you don't care about encores."
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First was "Alas I Cannot Swim," a lyrically impressive song about longing and frustration, and the final song of the evening was "I Speak Because I Can," the title of her new release.
In the end, the 120 or so very respectful fans that saw this show were given a tour de force performance.
Random Note: She's 20???!!! I can't wait to see what she produces when she gets just a few more years of life under her belt.
By the Way: Laura Marling is cute, but the two highly skilled female singers/guitarists in Smoke Fairies were gorgeous!