Just two years after her previous album, Laura Marling’s new record ‘Semper Femina’ will be released on March 10th.

Her fifth album, ‘Short Movie’, demonstrated a change in direction for the predominantly folk singer, being the first record where she plays the electric guitar. From the songs already released from ‘Semper Femina’, Marling interweaves elements from ‘Short Movie’ whilst retaining her original folk oriented sound.

‘Semper Femina’ is the artist’s sixth studio album in just over nine years. The record was mainly written on the tour of her previous album in America. It was produced alongside US musician and producer Blake Mills, who has notably worked with Alabama Shakes and John Legend.

The record’s title takes its name from a Virgil poem, meaning “always as woman”. ’Semper Femina’ proves to be a phrase that has close meaning to the singer, having it tattooed when she was 21 years old.

In anticipation of the new album, Marling made her directing debut with the music video to accompany her single ‘Soothing’. Her sensual visuals of a latex-clad woman in the video paired with a prominent string section promote the individuality of the record. Hopefully there will be more directorial possibilities for the artist in the future.

Marling marked the occasion with a Student Press Conference held at Goldsmiths University on February 13th in order to discuss the new release. Hosted by Jen Long, Marling performed songs off the new record (‘Wildfire’, ‘Nothing Not Nearly’, ‘Next Time’) and answered questions from members of the audience and fans on social media.

After an awkward wait for the artist to arrive on stage, there was an air of discomfort in the room as Marling finished her first performance, ‘Wildfire’, despite it being well received by the audience.

The gentle tones of her voice are always effortless when playing live; however, the performer had difficulty in articulating herself in some of the questions that proceeded.

A member of the audience delved into her previous comments of the new album “coming from a particularly masculine time of [her] life”, and questioned her motivations on this ethos influencing the record. Marling hesitated for a moment, perhaps trying to carefully construct her answer:

“That sense of trying to experience something through the eyes of what we’re accustomed to viewing societally”.

Marling stresses society’s importance in removing women from the masculine gaze, and depicting femininity through a woman’s eyes. She questions this social expectation of gender and sexuality with this record, but without offering a definitive answer.

The open-endedness of the album mirrors every woman’s unique journey on her own path to self-discovery. She challenges societies gender bias by discussing why there aren’t more women working in not only the creative industry, but in other fields too: “The imbalance there needs to be rectified”.

She also happily converses with Long about her podcast series, ‘Reversal of the Muse’, which was a sequence of ten conversations about what is happening within music and female creativity.

She anticipates to continue in time: “I would, for my own self interest, like to continue having that conversation with as many people as I can…but I want to go in next with less of an agenda…it’s so much more…biological than I realised”.

A few questions were concentrated on the artist’s literary interests, to which Marling claimed she had not read fiction in a while, but enjoying reading poetry.

“Gothic romantic fiction used to play a big part in my vocabulary of…emotional experience. Now that I have my own emotional experiences of them, I like…delving into poetry more than fantasy fiction”.

She discussed her favourite poet of the moment, Ranier Maria Wilca, whose life and experiences with femininity heavily influenced the musician when she came to writing her latest record.

The singer playfully reflected her other life passions when asked about what she wouldn’t be doing if she hadn’t found her pathway into music, claiming that her interest in cooking and writing could have lead to other careers.

When asked what her speciality is in the kitchen, she half jokily, half sincerely said she would cook a vegan meal to impress someone, inducing laughter from the audience.

Marling concluded with explaining how her experiences through her career had shaped and formed the new album:

“I have done a lot of travelling…and touring on my own…it’s a big mental and physical exertion…I’ve been aware of that restriction [for women]. That’s been the most restricting thing for me”.

Although the singer’s discomfort at first was noticeable, after a brief but informative event, Marling swiftly exited the stage. Her everlasting female empowering philosophy makes her an important figure within the music industry at this time and for the future.

 Laura Marling’s sixth studio album ‘Semper Femina’ is out on Friday 10th March.

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Louisa Streeting

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