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From the Promoter
There is a line from Virgil’s epic poem The Aeneid that nearly a decade ago Laura Marling decided to have tattooed on her leg: “Varium etmutabile semper femina” it runs, translating roughly as “A woman is an ever fickle and changeable thing.” Realizing that the line was a little long for the limb, at the very last moment she opted instead for an abbreviation: “Semper femina” she chose: “Always a woman.” It makes a fitting and fascinating title for Marling’s sixth album — an intimate, devoted exploration of femininity and female relationships, and among her finest work to date. Written largely on the tour that followed 2015’s Short Movie and recorded in Los Angeles with production from Blake Mills, it is at once a distinctive and musically compelling collection of songs, run through with Marling’s fierce intelligence; a keen, beautiful and unparalleled take on womanhood.
The songs grew out of what Marling regards as “a masculine time” in her life. “A certain time when I’d sort of gone on this trip of abandoning any sexuality,” she says. “Now in retrospect I was hopped up on the times, but I was living in LA, and LA does have an amazing knack for removing sexuality. I found it quite scary; I was scared of what I perceived to be the disappearance of my feminine side. But it gave me an ability to look at women in a different way and consider how I’d been looked at.”
More than anything on Semper Femina Marling addresses the space between the perceptions and realities of being a woman, the space in which women are not frail but powerful, creative and abundant figures. “When I was a teenager in my head you were either this delicate tragedy or you were a muse,” she says. “And they’re both such horrifyingly subjugated roles. But our culture loves female tragedy. That’s just been so ingrained over and over again, and there haven’t been enough examples of a written alternative. My main focus is re-writing the idea of tragic woman.”
If Marling sounds galvanized it’s because this album marks a shift in her career. “The time and the political climate that we live in, we’re coming to a point where there’s no need for this sort of artistic expression that I’ve been a part of,” she says. “Innocent creativity had a little flourish in the last ten years. But also I’m getting older and now I think ‘What use is that?’ It’s not rooted, not pointed, not political. For me right now I feel like it’s more important that I have a practical use.”