It’s truly a golden era for supremely talented female singer/songwriters at the moment, from the all-conquering Adele, indie icon and recent Mercury prize winner PJ Harvey to new girl on the block Anna Calvi.
Up there with the best of them sits Laura Marling, who brings her haunting modern folk music to London’s Maida Vale Studios for the latest in what is proving to be a classic series of In Concerts.
Since the release of her debut album Alas, I Cannot Swim in 2008 and follow-up I Speak Because I Can two years later, appreciation of her superbly crafted and emotionally charged songs of love and loss has gone off the scale — both works received Mercury nominations and she also picked up gongs at this year’s Brit and NME Awards.
From the first chords of tonight’s opener, Rambling Man, it was clear that the esteem in which she is held is not misplaced. This is a performer who can hold an audience spellbound with her beautiful voice and accomplished guitar playing — she seemed particularly suited to the more intimate surroundings of Maida Vale.
In an all too brief, 60-minute set we were treated to songs from across her catalogue, including the recently released A Creature I Don’t Know, which features a fuller production sound — with electric guitars even. Sophia and the evocative Salinas from the new album were particular standouts on the night and, while comparisons are probably a little unfair, Hissing of Summer Lawns-era Joni Mitchell springs to mind.
She doesn’t talk to the audience much and it was difficult to work out if this was genuine shyness or a deliberate move to enhance the enigmatic persona. Either way, nothing was going to detract from what was a superb performance by an artist who deserves all the plaudits thrown her way.