Laura Marling’s Quietly Majestic ‘Once I Was An Eagle’

Last summer was the season of big, folk-inspired choruses, tailor-made for the late-summer kegger in the woods, the fading bonfire, the beer ad, the college a cappella group and the movie trailer. The onslaught of songs like The Lumineers’ "Ho Hey," Mumford and Sons’ "I Will Wait" and Imagine Dragons’ "It’s Time" kept the mandolins and acoustic pickings and cloying earnestness in abundance, and given the overplay of this particular clutch of songs, it’s easy to see how people could get burned out on contemporary folk and campfire folk-inspired pop.

British singer-songwriter Laura Marling sometimes gets lumped into this group, maybe because there’s some fan overlap, maybe because she’s both dated and collaborated with members of Mumford & Sons. But if there was an album that could make you fall in love with millennial interpretations of folk music, Marling’s fouth album, Once I Was An Eagle, should be it. Marling is 23 but sounds ageless, and the themes she covers, from past romances to encounters with the Devil, may be nothing new, but given life just the same through her gift for song construction and her luminous voice. Stick around for "Master Hunter," a stomping, clanging and hypnotic chase through a sun-baked wilderness. 

Once I Was An Eagle will be released on May 27th, but in the meantime, listen to first single "Where Can I Go?" or watch "When Brave Bird Saved," the glowing, intimate short film from Fred & Nick featuring the album’s first four tracks, below. Or listen to the whole thing over at NPR this week. You’ll definitely want to do the latter. Seriously. Listen to the whole thing. 

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