Laura Marling is reading a book about different kinds of love. "It's like a critical study of the various different ways that we experience and give love," she says in her crisp British accent. "Why I'm really enjoying reading it is because I'm taking it very slowly and understanding everything it says and forming my own opinion of it." A 20 year-old pop star admitting to taking the time to digest a book, much less a taxonomy of love written in the 1950s, is not exactly a common occurrence. But Laura Marling does a lot of things differently.
Though she has already been nominated for the Mercury Prize, hailed as a star of the burgeoning British folk scene as well as the mainstream music world, and put out two albums in three years after getting signed at age 16, Marling takes things slowly. The same thought that goes into her careful speech goes in to her songs, graceful accounts of failed relationships and obsessions, hope and fear and every different kind of love. Her latest album, I Speak Because I Can, is a collection of pop music defined not by glossy hooks or brand names but by the artistry of its musicianship and the care of its creator.
It takes some investment to listen to Marling's songs. When "Rah-rah-ah/Roma, Roma-ma/GaGa, ooh lala" counts as the defining chorus of our musical milieu, it's refreshing to listen to an album that rewards repetition with something deeper than surface appeal. Out of Laura's lyrics drift poetic couplets like the resounding oath of "Goodbye England (Covered in Snow)," "I only believe that true love is frail / And willing to break," or the fleeting narrative of "Made by Maid, "So left to wander blind, I find myself in cautious times / And they say, Love's labors never lost; labor on to this very day." These are gems that take time to unearth out of the music.