So after the long wait, Once I Was an Eagle was available this week. I know I could have listened to it streaming on The Guardian website last week, but I’d rather scarf up the few remaining “event” releases that the old model of the music industry can cough up, as well listening in the correct spirit and frame of mind.
Having listened two or three times since Monday, early impressions are that Laura Marling has followed her muse resolutely; this is a deep and wide album which will doubtless leave some of the fanbase behind. It is a bigger leap than even I expected.
N’mind; she can probably do no other than that which her heart and sensibilities demand. Nor should an artist as resolute (that word again) on the path she has chosen.
So what does it sound like? Mostly like I imagine the rumbling of earthquake sounds as the fragile mantle is threatened by the turbulence of what lies beneath. The mumbles, the weird enunciations, the sympathetic growling of producer Ethan Johns’ ambient noises all contribute to the atmosphere of discomfort LM creates; there’s something on her “my-ind” here, which is almost inarticulable, but has to come out…
There’s months worth of study here; I’m loving it so far.
In 2017 Laura Marling looked back on Once I Was an Eagle, answering questions and playing live in front of a studio audience for the Radio 4 podcast Mastertapes.