Live Review: Laura Marling, Tiny Little Houses

12 June 2017 | 4:47 pm | Joel Lohman

"It is immediately apparent that Marling's backing band is comprised of uniformly accomplished musicians."

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If The OC still existed, Tiny Little Houses would be on the next volume of its mixtape.

Singer Caleb Karvountzis' reedy, nasal vocals are strongly reminiscent of '90s Pacific Northwest indie luminaries like The Microphones, Grandaddy and Death Cab For Cutie. The pleasures contained in their songs are not entirely negated by their being so derivative, however. Songs with such fanatic titles as You Tore Out My Heart and Soon We Won't Exist agreeably fill the Forum, though Karvountzis' faux-American accent becomes slightly grating by their set's end.

Laura Marling and her five-piece backing band enter the appropriately stately surrounds of the Forum. The stage is adorned with bouquets of flowers as they ease the audience in with the gracefully slinky Soothing. It is immediately apparent that Marling's backing band is comprised of uniformly accomplished musicians, any one of whom is worthy of close attention as they bring Marling's carefully constructed songs to life.

Marling is clearly proud of her recent album Semper Femina, as much of tonight's setlist is a tour through that album's meticulous pleasures. The Valley is gorgeous, replete with extraterrestrial backing vocals from sisters Emma and Tamsin Topolski. The contemplative highlight Always This Way has a truly beautiful melody, which is tastefully underscored by the addition of double bass. Many of Marling's songs are 6/8 and 3/4 waltzes, which inspire swaying, by turns spirited and serene.

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The backing band departs the stage for Marling's solo section, beginning with Goodbye England (Covered In Snow) and a cover of Jackson C. Frank's Blues Run The Game, another paean to Marling's homeland. Wild Once offers further evidence of Marling's being pensive and reflective well beyond her 27 years. The Topolski sisters add exquisite three-part harmonies to Daisy, which also showcases Marling's highly capable guitar skills, before the full band returns for How Can I.

Marling is a focused, laconic performer. Towards the end of her set, to compensate for her self-described "lacking" stage banter, she invites each band member to offer one funny or interesting fact in an endearingly awkward moment. Another concert tradition Marling eschews tonight is the encore, so her set ends somewhat abruptly after a rousing take on Rambling Man.