As a female singer./songwriter myself one of my biggest influences was the famously shy singer and songwriter Laura Marling. To me, her poetic fluidity and wondrous melodies takes song writing to the next level.
What’s fascinating about the English writer is that lyrically she has always portrayed an understanding of life and love that is so far beyond her years. Her enriched lyrics, melancholic-guitar picking, and abstract understandings of the self are far more complex than the mouth they appeared from, which was at first the mouth of a young 16 year old writer and performer. When I first saw Laura Marling live I was literally gobsmacked. I thought I was going to be swaying to her beautiful tracks and get lost in a transcending space called “songwriting heaven”, but in fact I was fully there, watching, in awe of her and her absolute power.
Her songwriting talents can be heard on every album, every track, every collaboration, but her power can only be felt live. At that first gig at Hop Farm Festival in Kent in 2010 I was entirely in her grip. Not only was I transfixed by her and her powerful music, but I was also, as a result, empowered by her. Obviously, I was one of thousands of people that were physically transfixed and so I am fully aware that she was not deliberately empowering me, but it really felt like it.
She is younger than me, but why should that matter? It truly does not matter, agism, sexism and any other “ism” should be ignored at all times and in all aspects life, that”s a given. And what’s incredible is when all you can take is positive energy and power from a performance you forget the basic facts about a person, like their sex, age or hair colour, because they simply do not matter.
I would like to say that since that moment I was inspired to write my own original music, after having performed in covers bands for over three years prior to this gig, but it actually took me a little bit longer than that. A year or so after the gig I was ready and began writing myself, and I have no doubt about the connection. Her thematic substance at first took me some time to grasp just as a listener. I knew I would never be able to concoct such complex yet focused songs, and despite some of my best efforts, I still haven’t been able to match the powerful songwriting skills of Marling, of course. But it doesn’t mean her power has stayed with me ever since.
Seeing Laura Marling doesn’t make me feel insignificant as a singer and and as a songwriter, instead I can only see the positivity of having seen somebody as incredible as her. What’s more, in 2014, I was lucky enough to see her again in a surprise performance at the tiny hidden British festival called In the Woods. The glorious cove filled with bunting and music is tucked away in a forest in the middle of the British countryside, at a secret location (I urge every music lover to attend).
You don’t find out the line up until a few weeks before, so you buy the ticket with trust. Trust that all music is profound and great, and whatever artists and genres they choose you should appreciate and respect, if not love. Well, as it happens, I was very fortunate that on the Friday night when they have just one act, it happened to be Laura Marling. I was sat in the front row for the first time in my life (having sat there for a few hours before as soon as I found out), and I was at the right place at the right time. My partner Stephen and I sat patiently on hand crafted logs amongst other hair-braided festival goers, wrapped in mohair cardigans to withstand the chilly summer night.
When she appeared on stage I didn’t know how to feel this time. The last time I saw her, and the time after, that I was surrounded by jumping, enthralled, dedicated fans of hers, and this time I was amongst good people, and lots of people that had no idea who she was. This time she had no backing band, it was just her and her guitar. The show was incredible. We rested on the logs and sucked in all we could from her beautiful set. And once again, this time in a different way, I was inspired. By this point I had written a number of my own songs and even performed at music festivals myself, but there never comes a time when you stop being inspired and more importantly stop needing to be inspired.
To have performers and writers on this planet that are even close to Laura Marling, makes me feel like there’s power out there to be had, it’s tangible, and it’s possible. More songwriters, like Adele, Amy Winehouse, Ellie Goulding, Daughter, Emmy the Great and so many more, have undoubtedly provided inspiration for many women and men out there, but for me, Laura Marling is one of the greatest songwriters of our generation, female or otherwise.