Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Tori Amos once wrote that only women bleed, it caused much debate at the time but undoubtedly she was correct in her assertion, the female of the species may be more deadly than the male but its suffering at the hands of masculine and the aggressive feminine is enough to understand why Feminism is needed now more than ever. It might be a call for sisterhood in some quarters but the damage that a woman receives from her own gender, her own doubts and fears is enough to feel the heartbreak that comes with Laura Marling’s Semper Femina.
Laura Marling’s vocals throughout the album take the listener down the route of understanding, of empathy and whilst there is not much to suggest an upbeat tone of redemption or positive realisation, that is not the argument on show, what is offered during the album is the damnation of others who relish in their ability to misuse others, by shouting down their sisters, their brothers, their fellow human being to the point of absolute disgrace; all of this in the name of one-upmanship and being the alpha being in the sorority.
The imploring, the memory, the peeling back of several layers to reveal a woman who is reaching out to the ghosts of the past, the spectres of her history, these are songs that claw with passion and a sense of the divine as Ms. Marling asks why a woman should be hurt by all that surround her and by her own thoughts of forgotten imperfections and mishaps in love, regret and aching hunger.
The tracks Wild Fire, Always This Way, Next Time and Nothing Not Nearly are sung and talked over with a sense of glory, of power, will and resolution which is the only emotions left once everybody has taken their slice of human pie.
It is very much to the credit of Ms. Marling that she takes this stance in the album, that she opens up not only her heart but perhaps her own wounded soul also, the sense of personal unburdening is overwhelming and Semper Femina is the result of such confessional release. The argument will always be that some do not like the wearing of the soul on the sleeve, Laura Marling’s wonderful offering suggest that perhaps we could all do with admitting our vulnerability and past a bit more often.
Ian D. Hall