A.V. Club Most Read

News Newswire Great Job, Internet!
TV Club All Reviews What's On Tonight
Video All Video A.V. Undercover A.V. Cocktail Club Film Club
Reviews All Reviews Film TV Music Books
Features All Features You Win Or You Die AVQ&A
Sections Film Tv Music Food Comedy Books Games Aux
Our Company About Us Contact Advertise Privacy Policy Careers RSS
Onion Inc. Sites The Onion The A.V. Club ClickHole Onion Studios

Laura Marling: I Speak Because I Can


Laura Marling

Album: I Speak Because I Can
Label: Virgin

Community Grade (11 Users)

  • A
  • A-
  • B+
  • B
  • B-
  • C+
  • C
  • C-
  • D+
  • D
  • D-
  • F

Your Grade


Laura Marling’s 2007 debut Alas, I Cannot Swim was a masterpiece of such world-weariness and maturity that it was hard to believe it was released just after the singer-songwriter’s 17th birthday. Yet Swim captured the live-wire emotional intensity of adolescence even as its songcraft and literate lyrics betrayed the precociousness of a singer much wiser than her years. On her follow-up, I Speak Because I Can, Marling alternates between hushed, whispered intensity and pummeling intensity, sometimes over the course of a single song, like “Hope In The Air,” which segues from spare minimalism to angrily strummed guitar, rage, and poisonous sarcasm. Marling’s character studies and portraits of troubled relationships are painted with infinite shades of black and grey, but she leavens the sometimes punishing intimacy with great dollops of black humor, like when she admonishes, “Why fear death? / Be afraid of living” on “Hope in The Air.” 

“Goodbye England (Covered In Snow)” is blessed with a music-box delicacy, while “What He Wrote” finds the trembling tragedy in the correspondence of a star-crossed couple during wartime. “I believe you are meant to be seen but not to be understood,” Marling sings with scary conviction on “Alpha Shallows,” and fittingly, I Can maintains its mystery and poetic obfuscation upon repeat listens. I Can would make for sublime coffee-shop fodder, except that Marling’s music and especially her exquisitely wrought words reward, deserve, and ultimately demand close concentration.