Laura Marling - Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Wed 25 Sep 2013
Commanding solo show from 23-year-old fast becoming a great musical voice of her era
Whenever anyone appears onstage in a hall this size on their own to play acoustic music, there’s something otherworldly about the experience. Watching Laura Marling, casual in leggings and a white blouse, hair tied back until the hard work is out of the way, it’s impossible not to empathise with the frailty and emotional nakedness of the whole experience. At only 23 years of age, that she can do this not just confidently but with a commanding determination to take you with her on a journey… well, it feels as if she may be fast becoming a great musical voice of her era, even if she’s not quite there yet.
Sifting through tracks from the last five years’ four albums – and preview snippets of next year’s fifth instalment – she alighted probably more by accident than design more on those from 2010’s second record I Speak Because I Can, including the wintry tribute to ‘my England’ (she lives in Los Angeles now) ‘Goodbye England (Covered in Snow)’, the evocative storytelling of ‘Alpha Shallows’ and the title song, and a signature track in ‘Rambling Man’. Elsewhere the hippyish throes of ‘Alas I Cannot Swim’ and a cover of Townes Van Zandt’s ‘For the Sake of the Song’ were taut and confident, presenting a stark contrast between the modest, mousey-voiced young woman who apologised for all the tuning and the singer who threw her head back and roared out the coda of ‘Master Hunter’.