A parent’s love for their child stretches far beyond the concept of unconditional adoration.

That love comes with the fear that their child will be influenced by people and experiences outside of any parent’s control. It comes with the entertainment of watching that child’s curiosity as they discover the most elemental parts of humanity for the first time. It comes with the mental and physical fatigue of being responsible for much more than just one life. Most of all, it comes with the crude uncertainty that no one has any idea who that child will grow up to be.

Laura Marling’s seventh studio album Song For Our Daughter is all about that scary, hilarious, exhausting, and amusing unpredictability that defines parenthood. While her previous records clearly wrapped classical feminist imagery in a blues rock canvas, this album strips away auxiliary layers for a more natural look at the present-day relationship between parents and their daughter.

The lyrical angst and concern tied into Marling’s direct yet even keel resonance makes for music that can often walk the line between dark and graceful. Songs like “Only the Strong” and “Hope We Meet Again” lean more towards the disheartening aspects of parenthood with little more than an acoustic guitar and an earnest vocals driving her bleak tone. Conversely, songs like “Held Down” and “Alexandra” border on folk rock, lifting spirits with more hook-heavy choruses that listeners might find themselves singing long after Song For Our Daughter is finished. No matter the theme, the album’s sound remains appropriately straightforward and uncomplicated, leaving only essential instrumentals as a backing to the album’s more heavily emphasized stories and the beautiful voice that’s telling them.

But as much as we may want these tales of adoration for Marling’s daughter to be true, they are not. Song For Our Daughter is a fictional collection of ballads, many of which contain personal holes intended for the listener to fill with their own personal interpretation. If anything is clear by Marling’s overarching message however, it’s that she expects that fictional daughter struggle. She expects her to be inhibited by societal barriers that a son would never face. But as she describes in “Only the Strong”, “Bruises all end up benign”. In other words, she expects nothing less than for that fictional daughter to use her childhood difficulties as a catalyst to grow into a strong woman, crushing any patriarchal barriers placed in front of her along the way.

Favorite Tracks: Held Down, Alexandra, Only The Strong, Fortune, Song For Our Daughter