We’ve missed a couple of Marling albums; she was always good but if this new album isn’t her best, we must have missed some crackers.
The music is slickly delivered but intimate, and slightly downbeat. It takes in several genres; some parts are country, some folk, some jazz, a mix of English folk and 60s Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter. Over it all is her gentle but soulful voice, sounding mature and innocent at the same time. It’s all rather good.
Many of reviews we read on line talked about the lyrics. The title comes from a Virgil quote: “Varium et mutabile semper femina,” which means “Fickle and changeable always is woman”. There’s much reference to its depth and meaning, but the lyrics are all a bit cryptic: “The martyr who feels the fire/And the child who knows his name/They remember that there’s something wild/And it’s something you can’t explain,” is typical. It’s hardly “We know what we want and we want it now!” It seems to be songs about women from a woman.
We always think that in general people listen to music for one reason and poetry for another. However good the lyric, it’s the music that matters — and this is very good.