It’s just over a week since the release of Laura Marling‘s 6th album: Semper Femina.
At an ever-emphasised young age (now 27), half a dozen albums is no mean feat alone, but to consider time after time each record has been greeted with the highest of praise, it’s no hidden secret that Laura Marling is one of the most celebrated singer-songwriters of our time.
Semper Femina continues this trend. Translated from latin as Always Woman, it’s no surprise that femininity provides the focal point for the album. It’s a truthful and personal exploration which at the same time sees Laura experiment with new sounds, arguably producing her most sonically varied album to date, even at just 9 tracks long.
Soothing‘s bass not only provides power to its opening but has understandably found favour as the ice-breaker for the set list on tour. Released as the first single from the album it’s familiar to those attending and if anything is more powerful when performed live as you witness Laura stretch effortlessly and confidently for the notes within the addictive chorus.
Other highlights on the record include Don’t Pass Me By, undeniably the closest LM has come to putting herself forward to pen the next James Bond theme tune. The atmosphere of the track evokes such opening titles in the film franchise and the female silhouettes within each one, a connection which seems a little more than coincidental for Semper Femina‘s subject.
Always This Way follows on, with the first few plucks of the guitar strings setting up a chipper sounding track, but with lyrics jumping from asking “must every heart break / like a wave on the bay” and “…I wonder if all my pondering / is taking up too much ground” to admitting mistakes and exclaiming that “my debts have been paid”, this is Laura at her enigmatic best.
Wild Once is a beautiful construction, jumping constantly between clear and delicate vocals to delicately played guitar. A track which leaves a lasting impression while entering into the album’s final third, but we hazard a guess it was one many returned to after their first complete listen.
Perfectly paired with this is Next Time, a song which provides the second in a trilogy of music videos directed by Laura over the course of releasing Semper Femina. Soothing brought her directorial debut and the final clip came in just the last few days, a video to accompany the record’s second track: The Valley.
Nothing, Not Nearly closes the door on SF, sounding the most different to what was heard in the preview sessions leading up to release. This is thanks to the heavy strum of electric guitar which accentuates its beginning and drops in throughout the remainder of the track, an impossible proposition during solo performances with acoustic guitar already in hand.
But come the end of the finale, we seem to be left on the other side of the door, staring into the open world in front of us as the sound of its slam is greeted with bird song, giving the listener some time to reflect on what we’ve just heard and on a job, incredibly well done.
There’s a ‘cosy’ feel throughout Semper Femina despite its regular handling of often difficult subjects and ideas, such as heartbreak, loss and looking back on what once was. Conveying the homely feel are the footsteps and birdsong on the closing track, the jingle of keys and the audible press of a play button bridging Wild Fire with Don’t Pass Me By and the white noise which comes before the press of stop, along with the creak of chair, delicate laugh and captured comment that draws Nouel to a close. This makes the SF experience real, as if sat in that same room during its recording.
However this isn’t unique to this record, it’s an ever present feeling throughout Laura Marling releases as the voice feels so close that each listen is akin to an intimate and private performance.
At Seafront we thought about this and with the release of teasers, music and lyric videos in the build up to Semper Femina we imagined a way to make the listening experience ever more comfortable.
With an early March release and tour, combined with the UK’s fickle and changeable weather we set about designing Semper scarves, warming your walk and cosying your queuing at an upcoming LM show.
We started creating the designs for the scarves quite some time before the release of the album. At this point all that had been revealed was the record’s cover, the Soothing music video and lyric video for Wild Fire.
However from just this evidence it was clear the colour palette for the release and promotional material was to follow a pastel choice.
And so along with those sampled above, we also chose a purple which was featured on the LM web store during the pre-orders for the album.
We felt this sat perfectly with the two other more obvious choices for the scarf. The decision was then later cemented after discovering that a similar purple made its way to provide the background within the Nothing Not Nearly lyric video.
Deciding not to over-saturate the design with colour, this maximum 3 tone palette was chosen and the next decision lay with the use of text.
The song titles which we considered to be a feature of the scarf were to use the same font seen in the Soothing music video back then as well as the Next Time and The Valley clips since released.
A convincing link was found between these and the Century Schoolbook Bold font, and we knew that with some minor adjustments to characteristics such as vertical / horizontal scale and width between letters, we could achieve the desired appearance.
A header from the LM website offered the album title and name which we previously imagined would make a great focal / centre piece to the design.
At the header’s heart is a sigil (symbol). This particular one centred between Semper and Femina is used exclusively on the album cover and alongside the title, making a clear relation between the two. Others can be seen throughout the lyric videos and since the album’s release, can be found within the accompanying booklet.
It was decided two version of the scarf would be thought up, a cryptic and a more explicit / obvious design.
Click on the first image below to take a look through designs for the cryptic scarf and read our comments on its fruition:
Below you can take a look through our ideas for the more obvious design relating to Semper Femina along with our comments:
Laura Marling – Semper Femina
Artwork – lalobacreates.com
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