Ahead of the release of her fifth album Short Movie, Laura Marling is playing a handful of dates in small venues. And given that she’s played venues like the Sydney Opera House and the Royal Albert Hall, playing a venue like Edinburgh’s Caves is a rare opportunity to see her in a small place.
Her last album, Once I Was An Eagle, was a stripped back affair, but tonight, fronting a four-piece band and most playing an electric guitar, she’s more rocky. Whether this is a result of her living in the US or not isn’t clear. But for a performer who still has a reputation of being shy, this was a gig that showed she has gained in confidence, and is far better at stage patter than she thinks she is.
As she opens with one of the tracks of the new album ‘False Hope’ that voice leaves me pondering whether she may well be the missing link between Linda Thompson and latter-day PJ Harvey. Though she addresses the crowd in her honeyed Home Counties tones, her singing voice has far more of an American accent. It’s an interesting parallel between the slightly self-conscious person she seems between songs and the increasingly feisty person she seems when performing.
I’ve yet to hear the forthcoming album in its entirety – but the strength of the new songs like ‘Gurdjieff’s Daughter’ and the closing title track, mixed in with earlier songs from her back catalogue like ‘Master Hunter’ and ‘I Speak Because I Can’ suggests this is a record that will see her profile rise yet further and a new chapter in her recorded output.