Marian McLaughlin is a songwriter, singer, and guitarist pushing the boundaries of folk music. Weaving together imaginative lyrics, intricate classical guitar work, and rhapsodic delivery she creates songs of exquisite detail that are delicate, yet full of depth. Her third album, Lake Accotink, reflects the significance of the lake she grew up by in Virginia. As a child she learned how to walk on the lakeside’s trails, and spent much of her life connecting with nature by the lake. Lake Accotink is an environmental song cycle about humanity’s multifaceted relationship with nature. Overwhelmed by ongoing ecological issues, Marian began working on Lake Accotink as a way to to process the effects of progress. Throughout this lyrical journey, she observes humankind’s gradual impact on the environment, acknowledges the ebb and flow of natural cycles, celebrates existence of all life forms, and meditates on impermanence. Even when facing challenging concepts such as land fragmentation, plastic buildup in our oceans, and climate change, she makes sure to continuously set positive intentions for a hopeful future.

Marian’s stream-of-consciousness storytelling acts as an anchor for Lake Accotink. The album leans heavily toward a chamber folk genre and features a rotating cast of ensemble members, such as a wind trio and a string quartet. Lake Accotink explores other musical directions, from experimental rock to sampling field recordings. Marian also pushes her own musicianship on this album by playing piano, harp, drums, and synth on top of singing and playing guitar.

McLaughlin’s adventurous approach to music was inspired in part by Situationist Guy Debord’s theory of “dérive,” where one sets off on an unplanned route, letting their surroundings subconsciously direct the journey, “with the ultimate goal of encountering an entirely new and authentic experience.”  She applies this practice to her songwriting, letting instrument or idea guide her.  During an interview with NPR Music, McLaughlin explained how she sees parallels in her songwriting to dérives.  She primarily writes in an intuitive manner and taps into her stream-of-consciousness when constructing lyrics.  Noting that there’s a vast amount of direction and space when it comes to playing the guitar, McLaughlin takes delight in exploring and discovering ideas.  The results are often composed and cohesive, yet full of unexpected arrangements and shifting movement. (

“She occupies time and territory that few people are capable of these days.” –  Music critic David Hintz

“I’ve never seen anyone play guitar quite the way Marian McLaughlin does, or sing the patterns she sings.”– Bob Boilen, NPR Music’s All Songs Considered

“To listen to McLaughlin is to go on a trance-like journey, letting the music point, push, and drive the audience’s thought process based on the changing geography of the soundscape.” – Fred Knittel, Folkadelphia