It’s hard to believe that Laura Marling is so young. At just 21, she has released three albums, growing in depth and maturity with each one, her voice becoming even better as time goes by. Both her last records were nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, and she won the Best Female Solo Artist award at this years Brits; that’s a damn fine achievement for one so young.
Her music has always been folk-based, but with A Creature I Don’t Know, Marling has embraced Americana more fully than with her last albums, and it’s yielded brilliant results. It’s darker and denser than her previous work, and the songs are perhaps not always as immediate as some of her others; however, they draw you in, improving with each listen. You can hear the influence of legendary American folkies such as Joni Mitchell rather clearly on more than a few of the tracks.
The Muse is a strong opener, and introduces one of the central figures of the record, the Beast (hence the album’s title), and the track named after this character, the record’s centrepiece, is its best song, spine-chillingly atmospheric and wonderful. Another recurring persona on the record is Sophia, Goddess of Wisdom, who gives her name to the first single, which is another highlight, starting off gentle and building up into a fiery lament. Night After Night is the most understated song on the record, but it is also its most touching; an acoustic waltz to a love lost. Indeed, more than a few of the songs here deal with heartbreak – but in an extremely mythical manner, in true Marling style; here, the repeated struggle between the Beast and Sophia acts it out. All My Rage is a fitting closer, as Marling sings about letting go of the anger that has filled much of the album.
With this record, Marling has once again made an amazing piece of music – it flows beautifully, with several of the songs seeping into one and other, and the quality of the instrumentation and maturity of the lyrics is extremely impressive. Each song tells a story, grips the listener, grabbing their attention, and when the album finishes you can’t help but come out feeling all the wiser. This young lady’s popularity is growing rapidly, and it’s easy to see why; she just keeps on upping her game, as this album proves.