With the defiant, chugging opening chords of lead single ‘Devil’s Spoke’, Laura Marling announces her sophomore LP with the sort of brash, lush statement that only an unabashed confidence in ones’ own art can conjure.
I Speak Because I Can is a striking album. Throughout, Marling steers her ship between eerie campfire mysticism and the swaying, wave crashing stomp of ‘Rum, Sodomy & The Lash’ era Pogues. Even when seemingly resigned to fates beyond her control as on ‘Hope In The Air’, or lamenting past intimacies on album centrepiece ‘Goodbye England (Covered In Snow)’ she none the less embraces her lot whilst exploring the possibilities inherent in new beginnings.
Compared to her debut ‘Alas, I Cannot Swim’ Laura Marling’s delivery is more assured here. She is not afraid to simplify her expression and let the words themselves create their own mysticism. Indeed, the real beauty of the record; for me Marling’s greatest achievement here; is her ability to flirt with the lyrical Merry Old England-ism that can now render some of her 1960’s folk predecessors difficult listening. She exploits the incomparable beauty of such linguistic flourishes to great effect on ‘Rambling Man’, pondering contemporary issues whilst ensuring her work is rich in imagery and atmosphere, never once sliding into pastiche.
Like Nick Drake, Will Oldham and more recently Fleet Foxes, Laura Marling seems to be channelling the sublime. ‘I Speak Because I Can’ finds her tapping into the beauty of the everyday and using the folk medium to communicate what she sees with astonishing results.
Published in Issue 99 of Artrocker Magazine in |April 2010