Laura Marling - Once I Was an Eagle
Critic Score
Based on 33 reviews
2013 Ratings: #11 / 955
Year End Rank: #33
User Score
Based on 208 ratings
2013 Ratings: #20
May 27, 2013 / Release Date
LP / Format
Virgin / Label
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A.V. Club

Whether or not Marling’s huffy folk music is your brand of gin, it’s hard to deny the markings of such a raw talent. Eagle is a master class in creation.

Pretty Much Amazing

Once I Was an Eagle is a singular achievement: a haunting record, peopled with aural ghosts that come gradually crawling from out of the grooves.

The Fly

It’s the longest and best Laura Marling record yet: a 63-minute modern folk opus that should earn the Hampshire lass her third Mercury Prize nomination.


Sandblown and enigmatic, these are English folk songs that at times sound as if they’ve been established in the canon for umpteen years, yet the filter of tradition yields strangely enigmatic results; songs that are readily self-aware, but also conjure something unknown.


On ‘Once I Was An Eagle’, though, Marling proves that while she might remind people of Joni Mitchell, John Mayall, or anyone else you can shake an acoustic guitar at, she is not simply an imitative by-product. 


'Once I Was An Eagle' is an intense, internal record with a clear emotional arc. The portrait it paints of the author is not always flattering, but the truth rarely is.


Once I Was an Eagle is a bold work that, in theory, shouldn’t work—a lengthy, near-concept album about emotional availability—but Marling makes it into one of the year’s essential releases.

No Ripcord

There are two primary things that make Once I Was An Eagle take flight: Lyrics and progression, which together make the album intelligent, confident, and, perhaps most importantly, recursive. 

The 405

Marling is at a peak of confidence, and it wouldn't be too remiss of me to suggest that Once I Was An Eagle is her best album yet; better individual songs may lie elsewhere, but her new record's cohesive nature makes it much more of an adventure than what came before. 

The Line of Best Fit

Marling has delivered Once I Was an Eagle with a charisma lacking in most of her peers, and the poise of a far older hand. She’s no longer one of the country’s most exciting prospects; she’s one of its greatest songwriters.


Once I Was An Eagle is a remarkable feat of personal reflection that reveals more of its intricacies with every listen. 


It’s expansive and ambitious, and divorced of all the tweedy preening and aw-shucks raggediness the idea of “folk” has accumulated in recent years. It's dark, it’s angry, it’s even sexy, in a sly, subtle way.

Consequence of Sound

On her fourth release, Once I Was an Eagle, Marling physically and metaphorically sheds any notions of fragility with songs that are captivating and complex.


Marling has always trafficked in understated elegance, but she's firmly in attack mode here. Mostly against herself.

Beats Per Minute

Eagle is definitely Marling’s most considered work, and most of that comes simply from the fact she’s stripped away a lot of the decoration, and yet ultimately it feels easy for her, if not a little predictable.

Under The Radar

Once I Was An Eagle is Marling's most fully-realized release yet, a quasi-conceptual record that traces a path from naivety through harsh experience and eventually to consequent enlightenment.


Marling fares well throughout the release because she’s out in the open-- no longer hidden behind walls of varying sound.

Drowned in Sound

To create something so ambitious and interesting almost single-handedly, and to already sound ready to head off to the next level, would give anyone a massive boost of self-confidence and drive to see what else they could achieve.


Marling is an old soul through and through, and her remarkably timeless voice, idiosyncratic lyrics, and increasingly impressive guitar chops help to elevate the album's less immediate moments

An ambitious adventure, the first half molds together like a beautiful story. It segments in the middle but reconnects later, all laced with lyrics that only Laura can come up with, with her impalpable independent yet needy spirit that sometimes comes out with fire. Instrumentally, this is her best album, and one of the better ones in the genre.
This beautifully composed indie folk album impresses both as a whole and as a sum of its parts. Once I Was An Eagle has a stellar hit rate, with Marling crafting some of the best songs of her career and delivering them in an increasingly subtle and expressive manner, erasing any lingering doubts about immaturity or outsized influence of her predecessors. And at the same time, the album is determinedly cohesive, kicking things off with a four-song “suite” and introducing motifs and ... read more
This was a pretty pleasant listen, I feel like it's a bit of a grower so we'll see if my thoughts on it change after I give it a few more listens, but to me it wasn't anything too special. There were definitely a couple gems here and there, but the lyrics whist very personal and occasionally surreal, weren't too interesting and they began to get a bit samey too by the end. I'll give it another listen sometime soon, but as of right now i'm not crazy about it unfortunately, whilst it was a nice ... read more
Well produced, sonically ambitious, darker than her previous works: Once I Was an Eagle is a big effort from a talented artist. Laura Marling is young, almost 24, but she's built a solid and respectable discography so far. At this point of her career, age is not what matters most. This album makes me want to know the directions she's gonna take in the future. She keeps progressing and establishing her skills as a musician and a lyricist, making exquisite medleys ("Take The Night ... read more
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Track List

  1. Take the Night Off
  2. I Was an Eagle
  3. You Know
  4. Breathe
  5. Master Hunter
  6. Little Love Caster
  7. Devil’s Resting Place
  8. Interlude
  9. Undine
  10. Where Can I Go?
  11. Once
  12. Pray For Me
  13. When Were You Happy? (And How Long has That Been)
  14. Love be Brave
  15. Little Bird
  16. Saved These Words
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Added on: March 8, 2013