Shivering from a bike ride through the London sleet, Laura Marling rubs her palms across her frozen thighs. On the pale skin above her femur, there are two words tattooed in scarlet: “semper femina”. “I got it done when I was 21,” she tells me. By that age, the shy daughter of the fifth Baronet Marling was already the shining star of England’s nu-folk scene, with two arrestingly mature albums and a Mercury Prize nomination under her belt.
“I was reading Virgil,” she says, “because I’d been told it would help me with crosswords.” She was drawn in particular to the Roman poet’s verses – “Varium et mutabile semper femina” – which she translates as “fickle and changeable always is woman” and had shortened in the tattoo parlour to the more committed: “Always a woman”.
Six years later, Marling is using the Latin tag as the title of her sixth album, her first since completing the five-album deal...
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