Posted in music | pictures on June 15, 2011

words by Rachel Kowal, photos by Amanda M. Hatfield

Laura Marling @ Housing Works
Laura Marling

With its hardwood floors, book-lined shelves, and high ceilings, the SoHo Housing Works proved to be the perfect setting for a quiet, intimate show last night (6/14). (And it was all for a good cause!)

Though no opener had been advertised on the store's site, Sleepy Doug Shaw (aka Highlife) kicked off the evening with a short, 30-minute set. Fresh off a plane from England, Shaw kept things low key and stuck to a single guitar. Though he asked for reverb a few times, his sound was clear. "This is the most naked I've felt in a while. I just came off a tour where I was playing the same set-up but through a myriad of echoes," he quietly revealed midway through his set.

As his moniker suggests, Shaw's gentle folk songs may have been a bit soporific at times, but the crowd listened to both his woozy guitar melodies and impressively quick finger picking riffs with a quiet reverence.

After a short break, Laura Marling began her set with a string of songs from her last album, I Speak Because I Can. As she began to play "Hope in the Air," she briefly interrupted herself with a bit of a confession. "I've written a really bad set list and put three really intense songs right next to each other. I hope you're not all really sad already," she joked, to help ease the tension.

Of course, nearly all of Marling's songs paint somber pictures. I hesitate to call her a singer-songwriter for fear that it will conjure up a generic cute-sy image for many people. But instead of committing hackneyed topics to conventional lyrics, Marling sings of ghosts, sickness, and hopeless situations with an earnestness that makes her a joy to watch despite the haunting content of her songs.

Last night, Marling offered a glimpse into her third album, which she just finished recording. I can't say the new material is any more light hearted - the first of the three songs was about slipping into madness - but the songs contain the same beauty that marks the rest of her discography. Of course, with so much of her songs veiled in metaphors and folk tales, it's unclear how autobiographical the lyrics are, but I confess I'm glad she still hasn't turned in that dark world view for puppies, rainbows, and carefree love.

With the exception of loud applause after each song, the crowd was quiet to an almost eerie extent. Not usually one for banter, even Marling seemed a bit miffed by the silence. "How are you? Are you ok?" she asked nervously toward the end of her set, as if checking the audience for a pulse. To the delight of the crowd, she concluded her all-too-short set with a couple of older songs, including one of her best, "Ghosts."

Laura Marling's new album comes out this fall on the new Domino-related label Ribbon Music (home of John Maus). Housing Works sells books and serves coffee all year long.

Laura's setlist and more pictures from the whole show, below....

Sleepy Doug Shaw

Sleepy Doug Shaw

Sleepy Doug Shaw

Sleepy Doug Shaw

Sleepy Doug Shaw

Sleepy Doug Shaw

Sleepy Doug Shaw

Sleepy Doug Shaw

Sleepy Doug Shaw

Sleepy Doug Shaw

Sleepy Doug Shaw

Sleepy Doug Shaw

Sleepy Doug Shaw

Sleepy Doug Shaw

Laura Marling

Laura Marling

Laura Marling

Laura Marling

Laura Marling

Laura Marling

Laura Marling

Laura Marling

Laura Marling

Laura Marling

Laura Marling

Laura Marling

Laura Marling

Laura Marling set list (new songs designated by asterisks)
Rambling Man
Alpha Shadows
Hope in the Air
Made by Maid
Blues Run the Game (Jackson C. Frank cover)
*Night After Night
*The Muse
Cinema Paradiso theme song
*Sophia
Ghosts
I Speak Because I Can

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Comments (29)

definitely

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 1:19 PM

me too.

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 1:21 PM

would totally tap that ass

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 1:22 PM

I would do her because I can

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 1:29 PM

Stop objectifying women! You Anonymous COWARDS!

Posted by Colin P Fitz | June 15, 2011 1:33 PM

she's much prettier than jackie marling

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 1:41 PM

lots of harry potter fans.

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 2:57 PM

There are too many dudes on BV. Probably just because females generally have pretty deplorable taste.

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 3:18 PM

funny how you make a comment about women's deplorable music taste on a post about laura marling who pretty much takes a giant dump on every man's face in every one of her songs.

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 3:49 PM

"she's much prettier than jackie marling"

It's Martling, actually. How I miss that bastard...

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 3:50 PM

I would love for her to take a dump on face. Schwing!

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 4:00 PM

the agonies of the heterosexual woman

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 4:00 PM

she should model more, sing less...

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 4:14 PM

"she should model more, sing less..."

So do a lot of female singers out there.

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 4:19 PM

@3:50. thank you for explaining part of my joke.

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 4:30 PM

buhhh, opener was boring and not good. guitar went out of tune in every song and the songs themselves were uninteresting.

marling was wonderful, as always. didn't seem miffed to me - she's always a bit awkward on stage. charming to the end.

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 4:31 PM

Wow, BV comments never cease to depress me. I'm a guy (for the record) and seriously offended by all the shitty sexist comments on here. Give it a rest, assholes!

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 7:04 PM

I know those songs Marling has about the armageddon and sexism can be be depressing.

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 7:37 PM

Fuck you 7.04. Fucking loser. Hate you & your ilk.

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 8:02 PM

It's sexist to like ladies these days?

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 8:26 PM

What's wrong with being sexy?

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 8:41 PM

sex sells - her picture is why people want to read this fucking blog post.

put neko 'hummous in a case' case on the front page - watch your viewing stats plummit!

just prove me wrong!!!

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 9:13 PM

She mentioned the name of the new album, and also some author she'd been reading, but I couldn't catch either from over in the corner (vocals at this show were way low from where I was sitting).

Any help?

Posted by Anonymous | June 15, 2011 11:12 PM

Female artists trade on their looks as much as possible, generally speaking. One person who never did this was Kim Deal. She always let her shit speak for herself, and her shit was great. She also constantly shat on other female artists for complaining about sexism while they doll themselves up and lay prone on beds of cash for photo shoots. I know post modernism is all about having your cake and eating it to but sometimes your actual real world choices may have effects that don't jibe with your supposed politics. This was the lesson with Riot Grrl- a movement started by and largely made up of upper middle class white girls, and which was more about brand marketing than anything deeply political. If you don't want to be a joke, stop fucking kidding us.

That said, I make no judgments about this particular artists, having never heard her or been exposed to her p.r. campaign until now.

Posted by dkls | June 15, 2011 11:18 PM

also, dig my typos

Posted by dkls | June 15, 2011 11:27 PM

Well said dkls 11:18 PM. Very true about the Riot Grrl movement.

Anyway Marling seems talented.

Posted by Anonymous | June 16, 2011 12:14 AM

Kim Deal is the man!

Posted by Anonymous | June 16, 2011 8:49 AM

Ha, it just so happens this week so far I was listening to Elastica, The Breeders, Veruca Salt, Luscious Jackson, and Garbage. Talk about sexy girl rock! Rawr!

Posted by Anonymous | June 16, 2011 10:08 AM

I'd hit that.

Posted by Anonymous | June 16, 2011 10:53 AM

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