Song for Our Daughter

Moving forward an entire decade from I Speak Because I Can, Song for Our Daughter was released the April of early quarantine. A subtle yet more abrasive approach to womanhood, Marling’s words came just when people were forced to slow down and turn inward—to reconnect with nature and remember what mattered, as the earlier album longed for. It is here, on this work, that the Feminine Archetype returns: once weakened and distorted in I Speak Because I Can, now, she’s in full stride.

“Fortune” has quickly become my favorite piece. It begins, “You took out that money that your momma had saved” and with a beautiful enjambement of the breath follows, “She told me she kept it for running away.” Again, we are reminded of the previous album in that women are the only ones protecting women—for it is the mother’s son that is now using that money reminiscent of her hope and fear, an autonomy never pursued.

But Marling suggests that this hope/fear duality has been passed down to the son, her lover, as she explains in following lines, that their love “landed on rocks,” and he “lost [his] faith.” The chilling, “Oh my, fortunes can change,” rings in response and over the entire song, until Marling, herself, claims it as her own: “I had to release us from this unbearable pain.”

It is this moment, Marling says goodbye to her Maiden self. She will neither be denied her wants nor apologize for them. She has entered the Mother—finally, able to nurture and hold herself.

But what I love most about this song is that we are taken full circle in the Feminine Journey. For, Marling does enter the wisdom of the Crone. Though this love was painful and “unbearable,” her perspective goes even deeper than emotion. She sings, “I'll think on it fondly now the truth can be told/Some love is ancient and it lives on in your soul.” It’s “a fortune,” she writes, “that never grows old.”

For women longing for this type of strength, who think it’s not even possible, “Fortune” is a map. It’s a type of ambiguity that is latent with specific and applicable tools for empowerment.

This Crone theme doesn’t stop here. A deep spirituality sings through her now as she recognizes love is not something to have but rather a state to embody: “No childish expectation/Love is not the answer/But the line that marks the start.” The start of what?

In “Only the Strong,” it is in uncovering the fallacy of strength, that it is not this patriarchal-capitalistic view. In “Held Down,” and “Hope We Meet Again,” it is in owning vulnerability as a superpower and the wisdom of honesty: “say what you mean;” “I'll find God in the hands of truth.”

In “Strange Girl,” she aims to teach her daughter that even the “bad emotions” are valuable—that they teach you something. She loves her no matter “strange,” “lonely,” “angry,” “brave,” just as she’s learned to do for herself.

“Song for Our Daughter” builds on this as she offers her daughter not only advice, but a warning, as to how men may try to strip you of your worth. Maybe it’s having sex without “want[ing it] at all.” Maybe it’s much, much, worse. In a haunting fashion, Marling writes, seemingly to her daughter’s father “There's blood on the floor/Maybe now you'll believe her for sure.” Though she can’t protect her daughter, perhaps in the same way no one could protect her, Marling leaves a book—”the words that some survivor read.” It is in this line that the Crone shines through. She can offer her wisdom in presenting this guide map, but nothing is explicit and everything is personal. Her daughter must choose to adopt it.

“The End of the Affair” is another favorite of mine for how it shows our artist yet again demanding her worth. Love, as an emotion, isn’t everything as she says goodbye to a man who restricts her ultimate freedom. It is this love that bonded them once close together, that now pushes them to move a part. “I love you, goodbye/Now let me live/My life.”

A vulnerability like armor that amplifies each note she offers, it echoes in some ancient cave, or some stones around the fire: her love was a ceremony as she breaks free in ritual of her youthful fears and ideologies. In this album, she sets herself free by re-positioning the love she always had and Mothering herself. She realizes that the love she felt with him was really her own—being reflected back into her face. In Song for Our Daughter, the Feminine Archetype comes full circle, touching not only Marling and those close to her, but the collective of women.

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