Album Review: Laura Marling – ‘A Creature I Don’t Know’

Posted: 29/08/2011 in Uncategorized

***As published on on August 15th 2011***

To have your debut album and subsequent follow-up both nominated for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize is no small feat – and where some artists might sit back on such success to take time to reflect and re-evaluate , Laura Marling has taken a ‘why stop now?’ approach and embraced her seemingly limitless creative energy to unleash third album A Creature I Don’t Know a mere 18 months after the release of the formidable I Speak Because I Can.

Any fears of the album being a rushed effort are instantly dispelled with opening track The Muse, a jazzy folk song in which Marling exhibits the spoken-singing style which compliments her sound so very well. Don’t Ask Me Why offers an early glimpse of Marling’s more tender side, a beautiful folk ballad which begins with a solo acoustic guitar before accompanying strings and Marling’s crescendoing vocal all combine to create a truly beautiful sound, contradicting the songs somewhat dark lyrics – “those of us who are lost and low, I know how you feel, I know it’s not right but it’s real…”

Night After Night is a highlight – Marling’s subdued voice, deep and raspy, wistfully examining her conscience against the almost eerie flamenco-fused background of a lone guitar – it’s a stunning track, almost evoking the feeling of being the protaganist in the closing scenes of a very dark piece of film noir. Lead single Sophia is a triumph, encompassing everything that is great about Marling – a captivating five minute track which ever so gradually picks up pace and energy to transform from simple folk ballad to full-band belter, with the addition of an array of instruments and orchestration and vocal layers as the song progresses.

What Laura Marling has created with ‘A Creature I Don’t Know’ is remarkable. It doesn’t in any way attempt to reinvent the strong foundations layed down by ‘Alas I Cannot Swim’ and ‘I Speak Because I Can’ – instead, it takes what made those albums special and expands upon it in every way, still retaining all of the original charm which brought her mainstream success in the first place. It’s her best work to date. Worth bearing in mind is that Marling is only 21 years old – if she’s releasing albums of this calibre at such a tender age, it’s exciting to think what the future might hold.


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