SMALL talk isn't really Laura Marling's thing so it was a pleasure to see a very human side of the prolific singer songwriter at the Brighton Dome. Treating an enraptured audience to a selection of songs from her new, accomplished album Semper Femina, Marling’s mix of vulnerability and strength shone through.
The understated elegance of Soothing, the harder emotional edge of Wild Fire, the slightly nostalgic tinge to Don’t Pass Me By, and the stirring, beautifully textured The Valley – somehow reminiscent of Leonard Cohen – were performed with the raw emotional honesty we’ve come to expect from Marling. Her perfectly crafted songs, which became instantly like old friends in the telling, were woven with a sense of longing, while some fun banter with her backing band and vocalists added warmth.
Female relationships, affairs of the heart, lost love, future love – it was all here, and the 27 year-old included a smattering of older songs in a set which had a distinct country twang. "I was a child once, I was happy young" she sang in You Know; "A woman alone is not a woman undone’ was the killer line in Daisy.
Finishing triumphantly with Rambling Man, you got the sense that this was a woman at the height of her creative powers. Astonishing, stirring stuff.