This year, Laura Marling released her seventh studio album, the brilliant Song For Our Daughter, and completely took over my airwaves. I’ve been counting down her best songs, and today we’re going to continue counting down as we head closer and closer towards the very peak of her music. Check out part one here, and part two here.
40. Night After Night, A Creature I Don’t Know (2011)
39. Alpha Shallows, I Speak Because I Can (2010)
38. False Hope, Short Movie (2015)
37. Shine, Alas I Cannot Swim (2008)
Night After Night is definitely up there with the best of Marling’s guitar playing, delicate yet atmospheric, accompanying her deep vocals perfectly. The song doesn’t really build too much, Marling instead opting for a small crescendo towards the end for a brief few lines before heading back down into the quietude of the rest of the track. False Hope is one of Marling’s most pop-rock sounding tracks, her vocals sneering as the song races along. It’s immediate, it’s attention grabbing, and it shows a side of Marling we don’t really see very often.
36. You Know, Once I Was An Eagle (2013)
35. What He Wrote, I Speak Because I Can (2010)
34. Take The Night Off, Once I Was An Eagle (2013)
33. My Friends, A Creature I Don’t Know (2011)
Once I Was An Eagle is maybe an album that feels a little overly long, but when the songs stand by themselves, it’s so much easier to be impressed by their grace. On You Know, Marling’s voice glides through highs and lows, giving the song an ever-welcome dynamism that carries the listener alongside the story. Take The Night Off is the album opener and sets a high bar for the other songs to come. ‘I don’t care where you’ve gone beast / I care where you go’ is one of Marling’s most entrancing lyrics, and that high calibre continues throughout the song.
32. I Was An Eagle, Once I Was An Eagle (2013)
31. Nothing, Not Nearly, Semper Femina (2017)
30. Don’t Let Me Bring You Down, Short Movie (2015)
29. Divine, Short Movie (2015)
On Semper Femina, Marling really started to recapture her magic, bringing in influences from her previous two albums, Once I Was An Eagle and Short Movie to find the best middle ground between the two. Nothing, Not Nearly is one of the best examples of this, taking the somewhat meandering approach of the former with the heavier, rockier instrumentation of the latter to produce a song that immediately impresses and only grows on you each time you listen to it. Here we can really see how great Marling’s back catalogue is – from here on out the ranking of the tracks is really getting very nit-picky.
28. Tap At My Window, Alas I Cannot Swim (2008)
27. Cross Your Fingers, Alas I Cannot Swim (2008)
26. Hope In The Air, I Speak Because I Can (2010)
25. Saved These Words, Once I Was An Eagle (2013)
Cross Your Fingers was one of the songs on Alas I Cannot Swim that really made me fall in love with Marling’s albums. Her teenage angst is on full show here as she deals with mortality and aging: ‘cross your fingers / hold your toes / we’re all going to die / when the building blows’. Hope In The Air is one of the darker tracks on sophomore album I Speak Because I Can, one that starts quietly before crescendoing into a cacophony of guitars, drums, and piano. Marling sings of battles and thanks to that heavy instrumentation, you really do feel as if you’re listening to her preparing for war.
24. Made By Maid, I Speak Because I Can (2010)
23. Crawled Out Of The Sea (Interlude), Alas I Cannot Swim (2008)
22. Wild Fire, Semper Femina (2017)
21. Easy, Short Movie (2015)
In sharp contrast to Hope In The Air, Made by Maid is one of Marling’s most sonically (if decidedly not lyrically) comforting tracks. Marling’s penchant for storytelling is one of her biggest strengths, and one that she employs brilliantly here. Crawled Out Of The Sea might just be an interlude on her debut album, but it’s shanty-like rhythms are infectious, and the way that it builds each time she sings the refrain, adding in new backing vocals means that its a song that lends itself to repeat listening.
That’s it for today! Tomorrow we’ll be looking at the very pinnacle of Marling’s career as we continue the countdown from 20 to 1. See you then!