sat 20/07/2024

CD: Laura Marling - A Creature I Don't Know | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Laura Marling - A Creature I Don't Know

CD: Laura Marling - A Creature I Don't Know

Hampshire-born folk prodigy keeps the quality controls set to max

Marling: embracing new styles

The music-buying public must sometimes get tired of critics declaiming that modern songwriting is as good as ever. As good as The Stones, or Al Green, or Joni Mitchell? Really? Laura Marling’s first two albums do a lot to shore up the critics’ case.

And with this year’s Brit Award moving Marling into the mainstream, her new one, A Creature I Don’t Know, is possibly the most hotly anticipated album of the year. So how does it live up to the expectations?

Listening to the album for the first time reminds me of when I took possession of the last. Not in the way it sounds, but in the way it subtly defies your expectations. There is more texture, the honey-dew melodies are fewer in number, and Marling’s dark romantic intensity, although still present, is presented less intimately. That Marling has taken a couple of detours into folk-jazz (“The Muse”, “I Was Just a Card”) is hardly surprising, but that she’s also moved into, almost, out and out rock (“The Beast”) is bound to raise a few eyebrows.

Marling claims that this album is the most “her” so far. Artists are obliged to say that. What the new album does show, however, is a gorgeous progression based around her core strengths of melody and a voice that sounds like the breeze in Paris’s Left Bank. But it’s not all forward motion. There are familiar moments too. “Night after Night”, the album’s highlight, borrows more than a little from Leonard Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat” yet rises above the musical reference to conjure up her most darkly beautiful, bittersweet torch song since “Goodbye England”.

Fans will probably have heard the single “Sophia” by now, which lilts like a beautifully matured tequila-soaked Mexican folk song before morphing into Seventies country-rock. It also includes Marling’s most exquisite vocal to date. But overall the album is no better nor worse than those that preceded it. And that really is the highest praise.

Watch Laura Marling perform her new single "Sophia"


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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