Add Date: October 18
Artist: Laura Marling
Album: A Creature I Don't Know
Label: Ribbon Music/Virgin
Comments: It's absolutely scary to think that Laura Marling is only 21 years old. After all, the Hampshire native and London-based folk singer is already three records into a productive, critically acclaimed career; her first two full-lengths, the 2008 debut Alas, I Cannot Swim and last year's I Speak Because I Can, were each nominated for the prestigious Mercury Prize. (In case you were wondering, Elbow's The Seldom Seen Kid won in '08, and The xx's terrific debut xx beat Marling out in 2010.) It's hard to imagine that another nod won't be forthcoming for this new LP.
A Creature I Don't Know isn't, by any means, a perfect record, though a few songs that might be described as "missteps" mean, in Marling's case, four stars instead of five. Indeed, the first four tracks are all good, but not spectacular, as Marling dabbles in poppier songs in a way that just seems a bit out of her comfort zone. However, starting with the excellent folk tune "The Beast" and continuing for the rest of the record, we see her brilliance shine through. I'm a huge fan of songs that rely heavily on Marling's vocals and acoustic guitar ("My Friends", "Sophia"), but album closer "All My Rage", a bright, sunny folk-rock number that hints at traditional British folk, also shows her versatility.
If you like Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake or the late Bert Jansch, Marling is your best bet among the newest generation of folk artists. Spin tracks 5, 9, 7 and 10.