Better than: That last text you sent your ex.
Laura Maurling ain’t sweet. Laura Marling is feisty.
Last night at Roulette, an intimate venue composed of beautiful, gothic architecture (and where a hanging chandelier wouldn’t feel out of place) that’s just blocks away from the monstrosity that is the Barclays Center, Marling wore her emotions on her sleeve. Like, so much so that she turned that cliche into a reality. Seriously. It was like her arm was sprouting blood from a cut out heart.
However, these overwhelming statements of frustrations with love were not the typical complicated feelings you’d expect to hear about from a 23-year-old. Marling doesn’t fuck with immaturity. Her art is years wiser than her age. Standing proudly, stoically, she pounded her acoustic guitar for over an hour, keeping the venue so silent that you could hear the clicking of photographers who snapped photos from the side of the stage.
Folk music is easy to dismiss. Where’s the bass? Where’s the pulse? Why can’t I twerk to this? But really, folk music can take more confidence and swag than Jay-Z has walking out onto the stage of the Barclays Center, a venue that’s practically been built in his honor. Imagine you’re Marling: an earnest young woman from England performing before a sold-out venue in New York City. You’re playing songs about heartbreak for the city that practically invented heartbreak. But Marling, she makes this work. The emotions she tackles in her music aren’t necessarily sad. They’re rooted in loss and heartache, sure, but she brings an aggressive tone to the material. On stage, she’s at her most vulnerable, but somehow manages to whip that into confidence. It probably has to do with her quality as a songwriter. “Well if you want a woman who can call your name,” she crooned on “Master Hunter.” “It ain’t me babe; no, no, no, it ain’t me babe.”
That’s why when she plays a venue like last night, it’s a bit odd to see a crowd full of couples, ranging from 20 to 50 years of age. Her music is about love, but in a way where you break the frames and tear up the photos of you and your ex. However, that speaks to the quality of Marling as a performer and songwriter. Tickets aren’t bought because concert attendees want to cry in there seats (although there was some of that–not me, I swear), but enjoy a raw emotional experience with an artist who’s figured out how to carve into what makes the heart tick, and what happens when you connect with another human being.
Marling is lovely on stage. She’s friendly, but self-deprecating; charming, but self-aware; aggressive, but earnest. She likes to refer to herself as English. She likes to make fun of herself. She likes to banter with the crowd. At one point, a cell phone went off and she paused her playing, jokingly glaring at the culprit before finishing. She told stories of touring the United States and when she once met a gold miner. She stood there, below the bright lights, sporting a jean jacket and long skirt, her long blonde hair flowing around her head, tuning one of her two guitars between nearly every song. “I decided to not bring a guitar tech with me on tour,” she said at one point, plucking a string. “I hope you don’t mind.”
Don’t worry. We don’t.
Critical Bias: It was a rainy night that felt more like London than New York.
Take the Night Off
I Was an Eagle
Love Be Brave
What He Wrote
I Speak Because I Can
Saved These Words