Template:Use dmy dates Template:Use British English

Script error
Once I Was an Eagle
Once I Was an Eagle cover
Studio album by Laura Marling
Released Template:Start date
Recorded 2012 at (Third Crow Studio in Bath, England)
Genre Folk music, folk rock
Length 63:20
Label Virgin
Producer Ethan Johns
Laura Marling chronology
A Creature I Don't Know
Once I Was an Eagle

Once I Was an Eagle is the fourth album by British singer-songwriter Laura Marling, and was released on 27 May (US/Canada, 28 May) 2013.[1] "Master Hunter" was the album's first official single release.[2]

Background and productionEdit

Marling began debuting songs from Once I Was An Eagle, as early as mid-late 2011, before the release of her third album, A Creature I Don't Know. These songs included "I Was An Eagle", "Pray For Me" and "Master Hunter". The album, according to Marling, is the "plain[est]" album she has written. She has commented that it follows a central figure, who angrily shuns naïvety and love, and over the course of the album regains a "second naïvety". The album is written in three tunings, which mark the basic changes in emotion. The first half ("Take The Night Off" to "Devil's Resting Place") has a darker, more melancholic tone, whereas the second half ("Undine" to "Saved These Words") has a more upbeat and open tone, if not jubilant. Marling has stated that there is a greater cohesion to 'Once I Was An Eagle', in terms of themes and the development of the music. Many critics have noted that the first half feels more like a continuous idea, intensified by the first four songs ("Take The Night Off", "I Was An Eagle", "You Know" and "Breathe") which flow together as one.

Following the conclusion of her tour for her previous album, Marling began production on her fourth album. Unlike her previous three albums, she chose not to work with a band, and instead she enlisted the help of producer Ethan Johns and cellist, Ruth de Turberville, to assist with the album's production.[3] Marling recorded the album in 10 days at Three Crows studio in Bath, England. The guitar and vocals were recorded live in one take.[4] The album is considerably longer than her previous efforts - an issue that has divided the opinions of critics; some saying that the album "flies by", others noting that it would benefit from losing a couple tracks.


The album was announced on 8 March 2013, along with a streaming of "Where Can I Go?" on Laura Marling's official SoundCloud page.[5]

Long time collaborators, Fred & Nick, created an 18 minute film called When Brave Bird Saved, written and directed by the pair, which was a "visual introduction" to the first four songs on the album, "Take The Night Off", "I Was an Eagle", "You Know" and "Breathe". The four songs seamlessly flow into one another, much like "Don't Ask Me Why" and "Salinas" on Marling's previous album, A Creature I Don't Know. The name from the film is derived from the titles of the last four songs on the album, When Were Happy? (And How Long Has That Been), Love Be Brave, Little Bird, and Saved These Words.

"Master Hunter" premiered on Zane Lowe's BBC Radio 1 show on 16 April 2013.[6] Marling performed stripped-back versions of "Master Hunter" and "Once" on Later...with Jools Holland on 26 April 2013.[7][8]

To promote the album in North America, Marling embarked on a small tour leading up to the album's release.[9] "Where Can I Go?" was sent to North American Triple-A radio on 20 May 2013.[10]

One week prior to its official release, the album was available for streaming exclusively on The Guardian and NPR on May 20, 2013. [11][12]

Marling collaborated with Secret Cinema for 18 dates on an event known as the Eagle Ball. Reception was extremely positive, however many concert goers were turned away on grounds of identification and an age limit which was not made explicit before.

Critical receptionEdit

 Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 86/100
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic Star fullStar fullStar fullStar halfStar empty
Clash Star fullStar fullStar fullStar fullStar half
The Guardian Star fullStar fullStar fullStar fullStar empty
The Independent Star fullStar fullStar fullStar fullStar full
musicOMH Star fullStar fullStar fullStar fullStar half
NME Star fullStar fullStar fullStar fullStar half
Rolling Stone Star fullStar fullStar fullStar halfStar empty
Spin Star fullStar fullStar fullStar fullStar empty
The Telegraph Star fullStar fullStar fullStar fullStar full
This Is Fake DIY Star fullStar fullStar fullStar fullStar half
Slant Magazine Star fullStar fullStar fullStar fullStar half
The Huffington Post (Extremely Positive)

According to review aggregator website Metacritic, Once I Was an Eagle received an average score of 86 out of 100 based on 36 reviews, indicating universal acclaim.[13] Aggregating website Any Decent Music? assigned a rating of 8.3 based on 39 reviews.[14] 

NME gave nine out of ten in a positive review, calling Marling's analysis of her relationship, "forensic", and saying, "Four albums into a remarkable career in which she's yet to put a foot wrong, Marling is still waiting for her chorus. Once I Was An Eagle sets a high bar; does anyone doubt she'll soar over it?".[15] Once I Was an Eagle received a very positive review from Clash Magazine, calling it a, "beautiful achievement", and confirming that Marling can, "sit side-by-side with PJ, Joni and Sandy", as one of the, "greatest singer-songwriters of both her generation and generations before it." The review concluded by saying that, "Without doubt, this is one of the folk albums of the year."[16] The Irish Times said that, "whether she is softly crooning over a plucked guitar or dabbling with organs and percussion for quietly cacophonous climaxes, Marling is never less than captivating."[17]

Another favourable review by the Huffington Post concluded in saying that, "England has a proud history of producing generation defining female singer-songwriters; the likes of Polly Harvey and Kate Bush can attest to that much - however in Laura Marling, we have an artist not only capable of carrying on that fabled mantle, but dare I say, improving upon it as she does so", and commended Ethan Johns and Marling for breaking the, "'twee' shackles girls with guitars often find themselves bound by are again completely shattered, the vocal delivered more powerful, the guitar playing more intricate and lyricism ever more complete. It's often stated that good books help paint pictures in your mind's eye, and Marling's songs are no different, her wordplay at its extremely vivid best."[18] Slant Magazine gave the album four and a half stars out of five, and called it, "close to a masterpiece, a heavenly composition with just enough hell to keep things from feeling too familiar."[19]

Matt Langham, writing for Music OMH, wrote that, "it is a work that cements her reputation as one of the country’s leading singer-songwriters. This, of course, is a standing that’s earned and age-blind", giving the record four and a half stars out of five. He went on to say, " The songs are seemingly plucked as easily as ripe fruit from a branch, but this belies their focus; it’s likely to be as powerful and unified a passage of music as you’ll hear all year."[20] This Is Fake DIY gave Once I Was An Eagle nine stars out of ten, and said, extremely positively, "Compare her to Bob Dylan all you like, but to issue a bold statement, Marling here proves herself, not as a product, but as an equal. Further down the line, it seems likely that on the emergence of another deceptively quiet young songstress with lyrics that stab and capture minds, the words on everyone’s lips will be ‘this sounds like Laura Marling’ instead."[21] The Telegraph gave Marling five stars out of five, the reviewer, Neil McCormick finishing, "I can’t quite pin down this album and that is one of the most appealing things about it. Her songs are liquid and amorphous, prone to shape-shifting, rarely offering up an obvious verse and chorus symmetry, or easy interpretation. Marling is never likely to be a fixture of the pop charts. But Once I Was An Eagle is a masterpiece, and, at 23, she’s still only getting started."[22]

The Independent also awarded the album five stars, saying, "As well as her most lyrically mature work, it's also the most musically satisfying. Marling and producer Ethan Johns have opted for a sparse uniformity of guitars, hand percussion and cello."[23] The Guardian gave the album four out of five stars, saying that, "there are a couple of moments where she still feels like the sum total of a very tasteful record collection, where she struggles to make herself heard over the echoes of Joni Mitchell and Dylan's thin wild mercury sound. More often, though, she cuts through her influences, and rings out loud and clear; when she does, it's a very diverting sound indeed." The review positively highlighted the intensity and relentlessness of the first six-seven songs, and of the latter half said that, "the quality of the songs remains almost unerringly high".[24]

The album made it onto many year end lists, including #20 on Rolling Stone, #9 on NME, #5 on Uncut and #2 on The New York Time's list of the best albums of 2013.[25]

Track listingEdit

All songs written and composed by Laura Marling, except for "Interlude" by Ethan Johns[26]
No. Title Length
1. "Take the Night Off"   4:12
2. "I Was an Eagle"   4:21
3. "You Know"   2:30
4. "Breathe"   5:00
5. "Master Hunter"   3:16
6. "Little Love Caster"   5:52
7. "Devil's Resting Place"   3:14
8. "Interlude"   2:16
9. "Undine"   3:12
10. "Where Can I Go?"   3:40
11. "Once"   3:38
12. "Pray for Me"   5:05
13. "When Were You Happy? (And How Long Has That Been)"   3:53
14. "Love Be Brave"   3:04
15. "Little Bird"   5:40
16. "Saved These Words"   4:27


  • Laura Marling - voice, guitar
  • Ruth de Turberville - cello
  • Ethan Johns - drums, production
  • Rex Horan - Bass

Chart performanceEdit

Chart (2013) Peak
Australian Albums Chart[27] 12


  1. Once I Was An Eagle Album Announcement. Retrieved on March 8, 2013.
  2. Tijdlijnfoto's. Facebook. Retrieved on June 1, 2013.
  3. Stream Laura Marling’s new album Once I Was An Eagle. Consequence of Sound (2013-05-20). Retrieved on June 1, 2013.
  4. Bernard Zuel. Singer-songwriter Laura Marling finds her voice. Retrieved on June 1, 2013.
  5. Where Can I Go? Streaming. Retrieved on March 8, 2013.
  6. New music: Laura Marling – Master Hunter. The Guardian. Retrieved on May 2, 2013.
  7. LATER WITH JOOLS HOLLAND. Retrieved on May 2, 2013.
  8. LATER WITH JOOLS HOLLAND PART II. Retrieved on May 2, 2013.
  9. NORTH AMERICAN SPRING JAUNT. Retrieved on May 2, 2013.
  10. Future Triple-A Releases. Retrieved on May 2, 2013.
  11. Laura Marling – Once I Was an Eagle: exclusive album stream | Music | Guardian (2013-05-20). Retrieved on June 1, 2013.
  12. Thompson, Stephen (2013-05-19). First Listen: Laura Marling, 'Once I Was An Eagle'. NPR. Retrieved on June 1, 2013.
  26. Laura Marling - When Brave Bird Saved. YouTube (2013-04-30). Retrieved on June 1, 2013.
  27. Laura Marling - Once I Was an Eagle.

Template:Laura Marling

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.