Show Review: Laura Marling @ The Orange Peel

Laura Marling requested that there be no photography during her set, photo by Molly Morgan

Laura Marling requested that there be no photography during her set, photo by Molly Morgan

“So what kind of music does she play?” asked one of my concert companions as she cut a chunk off of her free-range chicken tender.

The three of us decided to catch up over a true Asheville classic –Farm Burger—before making the trek over a few blocks to the Orange Peel. I find myself in this situation often: wanting to go to a concert and playing it up to my friends, throwing in the temptation of organic French fries, so I don’t have to go alone. Of course, I enjoy their company very much. And I happen to believe that these two particular friends will enjoy Laura Marling’s feminine yet powerful music as much as I do.

I sigh, not of frustration, but of consideration for how to capture Laura Marling’s eclectic, thoughtful style. “I would say it’s folk. But not banjo-fied, dance-y folk. It’s just her, with a guitar for the most part. And her lyrics are the most important thing about her.” Yeah. Not a bad description.

My friend nods, and I can tell she’s still a bit foggy on what to expect.

“I know you’ll love her,” I add quickly. With my friend being a writer, I knew she would at least appreciate Ms. Marling’s affinity and manipulation of words.

We walked into the proud, old Orange Peel and were immediately handed a card, a note from Marling, asking that we refrain from taking pictures or videos. She will be playing a lot of new music, and would prefer that it be kept between us, and not on the internet. I can respect this. In fact, I love this. I love that everyone is being forced to enjoy the evening. We paid for this time with Marling, and she wants us to be there, really be there. There have been shows where I have made the decision for myself to keep my phone in my pocket, but there is always the distraction of concertgoers around me recording the evening for themselves. This elegant, graceful note ensures a night of pure listening and reflection.

Reflection. This is just what Marling’s music encourages. She sat on a stool, rotating guitars for the whole show. While her music is decidedly somber for a very large portion, her interaction with the audience was fun and casual. She had a small band, a drummer and a bassist. They were all delightfully British. The drummer even told us they and their crew were going on a hike the next day, and asked the crowd about the likeliness of encountering a bear.

Marling played a few crowd favorites like “Take the Night Off,” “I Was an Eagle” and “Rambling Man,” but the note was right; the biggest part of the evening was new music. She threw in one cover, because “most of my music is in D-minor, and that can be quite a bummer.” The cover was of Dolly Parton’s “Do I ever cross your mind?” Marling referred to Dolly Parton as her happy place.

Laura Marling’s low voice is soul-quieting and soothing. My friend (not the writer) leaned over to me and said, “she’s like if Norah Jones did spoken-word.” It’s true, Marling does some talking in her music, but it’s always with the rhythm of the song. However, I stand by my previous statement: her lyrics are the most important thing about her. Here are a few lines from one of my favorites, “you know:”

And damn all those hippies
Who stomp empty footed
Upon all what’s good
All what’s pure of the world
You might not think that I care
But you don’t know what I know