I actually played Laura Marling’s new song “Goodbye England (Covered in Snow)” 3 or 4 times before finding out that it’s being billed as a Christmas single, but that label doesn’t really do it justice—I suppose “seasonal single” doesn’t have as much of a ring to it. This is our first glimpse into her month-long recording sessions with producer Ethan Johns for the follow-up to her debut album, Alas I Cannot Swim, and if this gorgeous track being tossed off before an official album announcement is any indication, the pair hit it off brilliantly.
Johns provides his trademark singer/songwriter production trick of intimate vocals and acoustic guitars offset by dramatic strings that hang on to every word. There’s a gut feeling throughout this song—and in Johns’ best work with Ryan Adams, Ray LaMontagne, et al.—that it could all fall apart at any moment. It’s that intense fragility which truly pays off on repeated listens, as you eventually realize and accept that it’s all going to work out.