Laura Marling performs Song For Our Daughter at the prestigious Royal Albert Hall in London as part of the Mercury Prize 2020: Album of the Year.
The acclaimed songwriter explains how she lost and found her creative freedom on her seventh album, Song For Our Daughter.
or the most part, Laura Marling’s life in lockdown carries on as usual. At home in north London, she reads, works on cryptic crosswords, plays guitar and listens to music. On rotation on her stereo is the Ethiopian pianist Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, the Brooklyn-based rock band Big Thief (“by far my most contemporary obsession”) and a smattering of Paul Simon. Aside from missing her regular long walks, the musician is content. “I am happy pottering away, spending time alone, that’s not too difficult.”
We are speaking over the phone exactly a week before the release of her seventh album, Song For Our Daughter, a record that will drop with just a few days’ notice, its release having been brought forward as a gift to listeners who, like Marling, are locked indoors. The folk musician is typically understated about its significance. Why did she choose to release the record now? “It’s probably quite a nice time to listen to music,” she says.
Alongside Song For Our Daughter, Marling’s other service to fans during this crisis has been a series of virtual guitar tutorials of her own songs, given several times a week over Instagram Live. Other musicians have taken to performing live streamed concerts from home, but Marling knew that wasn’t for her. “I’m not a natural entertainer,” she says. “I don’t live to entertain, particularly. It doesn’t bring me much joy. I love playing live, but that’s a very, very different thing. You’re in a room full of people and it’s a shared experience.” Guitar tutorials, however, “are particularly comfortable for me because it’s a well-policed boundary. I’m just there for 20 minutes, telling them how to play a song on the guitar. It’s straightforward for me.”
Maintaining “well-policed boundaries” is of utmost importance