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SHOW PREVIEW: Laura Marling

I first heard Laura Marling in June of 2012 at Prospect Park Bandshell as a part of the Celebrate Brooklyn concert series in a lineup with Michael Kiwanuka and Willy Mason. In a word, it was mesmerizing. She gave a powerful performance of songs off the album A Creature I Don’t Know accompanied only by an acoustic guitar. She gave off Joni Mitchell vibes, but the lyrics were so raw and at times dark that I knew I was encountering something entirely new and different. Early in her career, Marling temporarily formed part of indie folk outfit Noah and the Whale and later performed with Ted Dwane, Marcus Mumford, and Winston Marshall of Mumford & Sons. It was clear when I saw her play, however, that the singer-songwriter requires nothing more than vocals and a guitar to convey raw emotion and moving melodies.

That’s why I’ve been excited to see Semper Femina live since Laura Marling announced that she would be touring her newest album, and my excitement is only magnified by the fact that she will in fact be wrapping up her North American tour at the Club on May 21. Marling’s lyrics are as poetic as her music is evocative—the two working together at once as the folk artist packs layers of meaning into every word while using a soulful and almost blasé tone. Although this profundity has held true since her debut, Alas, I Cannot Swim (2008), Semper Femina (2017) is especially personal in its exploration of femininity and Marling’s different relationships with women. You might just have to spend a whole evening hearing the songs live in order to begin unpacking them.

With sounds ranging from fuzzy guitar on “Don’t Pass Me By” to swelling strings on “Wild Once,“ this exploration promises to be a meditative and dreamy live experience. At times true to the folk tradition and at others almost bluesy, both the diehard Marling fan and the newly converted will find this album’s concert not only accessible, but transcendent. If you can’t tell, I fell into the “diehard fan” category when I first saw her in 2012, so I’ll be there on May 21—but no matter where you fall, you should be there, too.

-Mary Alice Jackson

Get tickets here for Laura Marling with Valley Queen at 9:30 Club on May 21.