Saturday, February 16, 2008

Alas I Cannot Swim - Laura Marling

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If only because Laura Marling isn't another female singer-songwriter jumping on the Amy Winehouse bandwagon this album is like a breath of fresh air.

It's also refreshing that the teenage Marling doesn't sound, lyrically at least, her age. The likes of Adele and Amy Macdonald can instantly be identified as teenagers by some of their lyrics; Marling, on the other hand has a lyrical poise that defies her tender years.

Of course all of this is both a blessing and a curse in some ways; although one cannot say that Marling has been without her well-placed hype, her folk stylings mean that she's not got half the attention that the likes of Adele or Duffy have recieved as 2008 has kicked into gear. It's understandable, mainly due to the fact that her style is not neccesarily fit for Radio 1's target audience, so it perhaps a minor miracle that she's got the mainstream airplay she has at all.

The appeal of Marling lies somewhat in her simplicity. Background noises are left in the mix and her laughter can still be heard. But don't let the simplicity fool you; this is a darker record than her "contemporaries" have delivered. Indeed the pervading theme is the expression of acute heartbreak, a theme that Marling portrays with a lyrical sense that, again, belies her years.

It's not going to appeal to everyone and it is fair to say that it lacks the "mainstream" qualities that more hyped performers bring to the table. It's also fair to say that not everything quite hits the mark either. But there is more success than there is (relative) failure and there is certainly enough to suggest that Marling is rare talent. And like the best vintage wine, there is the definite feelining that Marling is going to improve with age.

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