Laura Marling / A Creature I Don’t Know / Virgin
The 21-year-old Hampshire songstress has always longed to taste the dark seduction of emptiness. Alas, I Cannot Swim cascaded with an innocent yet mischievous conscience, a sense of wonder coursed through the veins of I Speak Because I Can and on Laura Marling’s third solo work, A Creature I Don’t Know, the poetic lyricist continues her journey through life, questioning the difficult balance between wanting and needing with a creative focus that’s impossible to mimic. There have been Joni Mitchell comparisons – and others referencing musicians entwined in the melodramatic folk category – but Marling, her voice, her guitar techniques and powerful tone are hard to replicate. As A Creature I Don’t Know shows, it’s partly due to her constant tussle with relationships. “He longs for the woman who will conquer his lust / He screams in the night, I scream in the day,” she quietly sings on “Night After Night”, a timid piece where the volume becomes emphatic due to Marling’s voice that quietly drifts between passion and gentle ferocity, a trait that built the grandiose six-minute animal “The Beast” and the exhilarating folk romp “Sophia”.
It’s that added touch that gives life to her music, taking numbers created from experiences and an enticing sense of imagination and making them more than just words strung along to sounds. Her lyrical side should be noted however. Not many can project lines like “I took the blood from an arrow” (“Don’t Ask Me Why”) and lock away your attention without casting a sense of intimidation and experimentation that’s too dense to digest, a clear downside to Marling’s songwriting. At times she’s too mature beyond her years with her tastes, influences and perception outlining a permanent dark cloud over her music. It’s a musical style that’s not for everyone yet if it is something you can tear open and withstand, intuitive ensembles like A Creature I Don’t Know are worth finding comfort in, even if it’s only during those quiet moments at night.
Download: “The Beast”, “Night After Night”, “All My Rage”
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