Review : Laura Marling - Alas, I Cannot Swim
MusicomhListening to Laura Marling's debut album makes you realise how inaccurate shoving people into 'scenes' can be.
When Marling first appeared last year with a couple of low-key EPs and the inevitable MySpace following, some journalists were quick to label her part of the 'LDN songstress' group, purely because she's young, female and comes from the south of England. In actual fact, she's about as far removed from Lily Allen, Kate Nash and Adele as...well, they are from each other.
In fact, if there's one female songwriter who Marling does resemble, it's Kathryn Williams. Her songs are similarly sparse and fragile, with some astonishingly mature lyrics framed by beautifully pretty melodies. At first listen, it all sounds a bit dirge like, but once you hear the album a number of times, her talent becomes clear to see....full text
GuardianTo go by this debut, which was written well before she turned 18 last week, Laura Marling's "adolescence" was essentially a protracted period of soaking up Joni Mitchell and Bonnie "Prince" Billy. The unnervingly grown-up Alas I Cannot Swim is the result, and if it doesn't install her as the heir to the likes of Devendra Banhart, there's no hope for folk-pop. Simplicity is the key: playing acoustic guitar and singing in a gentle verge-of-womanhood voice, she keeps things homespun and rootsy. Background noises are unedited, and her laughter at the end of Tap at My Window has been preserved. But most impressive is her ability to articulate heartbreak: the album abounds with delicately chiselled observations such as, "The ring on my finger slips to the ground, a gift to the gutter," which mark her as a lyricist to watch. Remarkable, coming from someone so young....full text
SpinIt might seem reductive to declare Laura Marling an old soul, but how many 18-year-old folkies sing earnestly (and convincingly) about death and divine judgment? Marling's debut LP is heavy with premature discontent, all broken bones, sleeplessness, and waking up lonely: "Sometimes I'm convinced my friends think I'm crazy," she mur- murs in "My Manic and I," sounding, for one fleeting moment, like an actual teenager. Marling's voice, rich and tenuous, recalls Joni Mitchell, but her fatalistic screeds -- sung over acoustic guitar, with an occasional burst of percussion or strings -- owe more to Nick Drake and Will Oldham....full text
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