Laura Marling is only 25. Twenty. Five. And already she has a back catalogue that would put most artists to shame. It’s easy to get lost in it as well, given just how prolific she’s been over the last few years – five albums since 2008 is no mean accomplishment, each with songs richer than someone her age might have any right to. It’s not just impressive, it’s downright scary.
Short Movie, unsurprisingly, continues that streak with a dose of the cinematic. “I’m just a horse with no name / somewhere there’s other beasts who think the same,” she sings on opening track Warrior in perhaps a very delicate nod to the America song, given its leaning toward guitar strums straight out of a Western. It’s also her most richly instrumented work to date, full of reverb and atmoshpheric production to give her some welcome embellishment, and make her more than just that ‘girl with a guitar’.
The sentiment of being alone (note: not loneliness) that starts on Warrior continues throughout, with Marling almost adopting the role of the solitary rider on horseback journeying through the desert. “Is it ok that I still don’t know how to be alone?” is how False Hope starts, and right on cue a track called Walk Alone appears soon after. Marling has never been the wallflower type, though. The glorious spoken-word of Strange is, well, strange in its empowering delivery, and reminds us that this woman is not only a pillar of strength, but still the only one who can make an often-tired genre sound so kinetic.
On songs like these, Marling seems to be having fun after quite some time and it’s a treat to hear. Of course, the hugely-produced meanderings into blues-bar territory are perfectly balanced with her traditional sound on the late-night lookout of Howl (one of her best songs to date), but the conclusions are the same: Laura Marling is still one of this country’s finest talents, carrying even a more cinematic style in her knapsack with ease.