British singer-songwriter Laura Marling has been releasing records since she was seventeen, steadily expanding her ambition with each release. After playing mostly solo acoustic folk and lush, sprawling Americana early in her career, she nestled snugly into the space between Nick Drake and Joni Mitchell on albums such as 2013’s brilliant Once I Was an Eagle. Marling is now twenty-seven, and her latest album expands her palette further. Strings and snare drums reverberate heavily, complemented by a colorful array of instruments that recalls the lush, playful textures that producer Jon Brion created for Aimee Mann and used to accompany films such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Songs like the intoxicating “The Valley” swirl about in slow-burning jazz similar to the music of Van Morrison, while closing track “Nothing Not Nearly” finds her scat-singing across fuzzy indie-rock. Marling’s singing, multi-octave and highly proficient yet casual and conversational, remains the focal point of her recordings, and she trains it on observational character sketches here. Always an empathetic songwriter, Marling began Semper Femina as an attempt to write about women from the male point of view until she realized it was all her own perspective and introduced multiples layers of insight on cross-gender relations. Enveloped in lovely arrangements and drawn with evocative storytelling, this album is a cocoon that you can wrap yourself in.