Reversal of the Muse: A Preview of Laura Marling at The Showbox

[Photo courtesy of the artist]

One of my favorite songs of all-time is Laura Marling’s track, “Night After Night,” from her 2011 release, A Creature I Don’t Know. It’s a dark, death-obsessed waltz full of lust and yearning that feels timeless, in the truest sense of the word. Marling has released six full-length albums and several EPs since she emerged from the MySpace woodworks in 2007. Her music evokes a maturity and spirit that makes you forget she’s only 27 years old (yes… only twenty-seven).

Photo by Hollie Fernando

Her most recent album, Semper Femina, is based on a line from Virgil’s epic poem, The Aeneid, which roughly translates to “Always a woman,” and has garnered critical acclaim since it’s release in March, with many saying it’s her best work yet. The album is devoted to femininity, female relationships, and, in a sense, sexuality. About the album, Marling says, “I started out writing it as if a man was writing about a woman. And then I thought, ‘It’s not a man, it’s me—I don’t need to pretend it’s a man to justify the intimacy of the way I’m looking and feeling about women.’ It’s me looking specifically at women and feeling great empathy towards them and by proxy towards myself.” The album touches on the female form and physicality in “Wild One,” the intensity of a female friendship broken by betrayal (“The Valley”), the space between the perceptions and realities of being a woman, and the complexity of the falling in love that one often experiences with female friendships.

Marling also cites the life of Lou Andreas-Salomé (one of the first female psychoanalysts) as an influence to the concepts in this album. Andreas-Salomé communicated with many great Western male intellectuals (Rainer Maria Rilke, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Sigmund Freud) and during Freud’s dying days, she sent him a letter saying, “I’ve been doing some research into the feminine psyche, and I think you’ve got it completely wrong. [The castration complex] is an invention of man because women’s sexuality by its nature is internal and self-perpetuating, so there’s no lack of this or need of that. It’s this internal, inherently creative thing without men.” This early vocalization against Freud’s central idea about the psyche of women could have changed the course of Western psychology, had it been published. Andreas-Salomé also inspired Marling to produce a podcast called “Reversal of the Muse,” in which she interviews women in the music industry (including Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris) and discusses the nature of female creativity.

I’m so intrigued and impressed with Laura Marling’s approach to this album and the additional creative projects she is constructing that all add up to a striking conceptual piece of art. Catch me gasping in my seat throughout the entire show this Friday; I’m already feeling overwhelmed.

Opening is Valley Queen, a band from Los Angeles, fronted by lead singer Natalie Carol. Their music falls into the classic Americana/roots rock genre, influenced by the likes of Joni Mitchel and Duane Allman. I’m excited for a more upbeat opener before the soothing voice of Laura Marling. I think the two will create a great dynamic.

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This show begins at 9:00 p.m. (with doors at 8:00 p.m.) this Friday, April 28th at Showbox Market. You can purchase tickets here.

EMMA PIERCE | My God is brooding | KXSU Music Reporter

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