Tight quarters at the Rouge

Laura Marling – Le Poisson Rouge – February 12

Friday night’s show at Le Poisson Rouge was certainly a departure from the norm. Forget the reverb, forget the laptops. The two artists of the night were each of a more organic breed. The show kicked off with The Wheel from Denver. The gentle tones of the upright bass combined with the vocals of frontman Nathaniel Rateliff  exude a kind of familiarity and comfort that make The Wheel perfect for a seated show… or a front porch. The Canadian Tuxedo and cowboy boots were also a nice touch.

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Wheel

The Wheel also joined Laura Marling for a number of songs in her impressive set. To call Laura Marling a singer-songwriter seems almost insulting given the depth of her talent. She has a phenomenal voice, she writes evocative and intriguing lyrics, and she certainly knows how to play the guitar. Oh yeah… and she also has a fantastic presence on stage. She’s shy but candid, pessimistic but playful, and bright-eyed yet jaded.

Then there are the lyrics – the beautiful and heartbreaking lyrics. Marling doesn’t seem to believe in love, God, or fairytale endings. Instead ghosts, sadness, sins, and sickness populate her songs. She sings so sweetly that it’s easy to miss the sinister tone that many of her songs have until you catch a line like: “My happy man my manic and I have no plans to move on.” The song, “My Manic and I,” is one of my absolute favorites as of late (even if it does come from her debut album and is not new).

Laura Marling - now a brunette

A lot has happened since Marling’s debut album, Alas, I Cannot Swim. After all, she was just 17 and unknown when she released it in 2007. She is certainly still shy, but according to a recent article on the Times Online, Marling’s intense social unease is beginning to subside. In the interview, she states:

What I’ve figured out in the past couple of years is that you can be shy, but you can also step it up a notch and, you know, be on the level with people.

Even the name of her  second album, I Speak Because I Can, seems to exhibit a natural evolution.

Of course, that’s not to say that she’s invisible. One of her new songs re-tells an old fairy tale of sorts about a girl who was brought up in isolation in the woods, tried to enter society, couldn’t cope, and went back to the wild. Marling is scheduled to release two albums this year: I Speak Because I Can and Devil’s Spoke.


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"He considered music a liberating force: it liberated him from loneliness, introversion, the dust of the library; it opened the door of his body and allowed his soul to step out into the world to make friends."

- Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being


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