Review by Shannon Shumaker
The masterful songwriting and storytelling in Laura Marling’s new full-length, Short Movie is beyond compare. From strong, the eerie opening of “Warrior” to the bright, beautiful string arrangement on “Feel Your Love,” Short Movie is a journey, and one you don’t want to miss.
The album opens with a deep, beautiful acoustic guitar part and haunting vocals. The guitar work is intricate, but still simple enough that it doesn’t take away from Marling’s vocals, and simply adds more to the strong storytelling on “Warrior.” Lyrically, the song serves as a great opener, hitting hard with the line, “I can’t be your horse anymore/You’re not the warrior I would die for.” The full band in the following song, “False Hope,” adds just another level to the sound on this album. While “False Hope” still has the eerie feeling that “Warrior” establishes, it’s a bit more rock-n-roll and gritty.
The third track, “Feel Your Love” is easily one of the strongest tracks on Short Movie. The song features just about every single aspect that makes this album strong - intricate guitar work, beautiful vocal runs and gorgeous imagery in the lyricism and a string arrangement that is totally breathtaking. The string arrangement, which feels very natural and beautiful, really makes the song come alive and compliments the story and emotion behind the vocals perfectly, building and building until the end. The guitar work builds as well, becoming louder and more intense toward the end of the song. The following track, “Walk Alone” is just a testament to Marling’s versatility alongside a song like “Feel Your Love.” “Walk Alone” is beautiful in its simplicity. Again, the string section in this song suits it well - it’s strong yet subtle. With quiet guitar, soft vocals and a gorgeous string part, the song feels big, but it’s not too much, remaining warm and mellow.
Another example of Marling’s amazing songwriting abilities is “Strange,” which follows “Walk Alone.” Side by side, the two songs sound nothing alike, but in the big picture, they suit the album well. “Strange” is a bright, fast-paced and fun folk song, even though I’m not necessarily a fan of the spoken vocal part. The guitar work, however, is incredibly strong in “Strange.” “Don’t Let Me Bring You Down,” is another bright, poppy track in the middle of the album, with strong lyricism and a catchy melody.
The cool thing about Short Movie is that each song seems to have a different mood and feel, and the album seems to grow as it progresses. While Short Movie begins with a couple of moody, eerie tracks, it really blooms with poppy songs like ,”Don’t Let Me Bring You Down,” and warm tracks such as, “Easy,” which hosts some beautiful guitar work. The album slows down comes to a close the way it begins, though, with three very strong songs in the mellow, “Divine” and the dark and eerie, “How Can I” and “Howl.” “Worship Me,” brings the album to a close with a soft ending and beautiful guitar work, leaving you wanting more and ready to listen to Short Movie all over again.
Listen to "Feel Your Love" or "Divine"