Laura Marling – Alas, I Cannot Swim

Monday, 11 February 2008, 14:07 | Category : Uncategorized
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In all the hype and clamour around Adele and Duffy at the start of the year, it was easy to miss another young blond singer-songwriter, even although she did sneak in at number 14 on that BBC poll. It’s possible that Laura Marling doesn’t have the ‘natural’ star appeal of the big two, and she certainly doesn’t match their vocal chops, but from what I’ve heard of all three so far, she does have something of an edge – simply better songs.

Interestingly, she’s probably not even the best young singer-songwriter called Laura who has clearly benefited from her parents’ Joni Mitchell records – that honour may well go to Laura Groves, but more on her in the future. That’s not to diss Marling though. Her album Alas, I Cannot Swim is out today, and it’s highly recommended because it’s surely going to be one of the most accomplished debut albums of the year, which is particularly striking from someone so young.

The album is produced by Charlie Fink of Noah and the Whale, and there is certainly a measure of his band’s snappy folkiness on Alas I Cannot Swim, but overall, Laura’s album is probably slightly smoother. Not that this is a bad thing and this is a record that can’t be accused of being over-produced. There’s a real spring in its step, and the songs are well-crafted, with tales of heartbreak and longing which easily transcend her mere 18 years. A debut of real promise.

My only quibble is that it doesn’t contain what’s probably her best song. New Romantic, which first appeared on the My Manic and I EP, was one of my favourite songs of 2007, and to see two other tracks from the EP on the album, and not the lead track puzzled me a lot. Still, can’t have everything.

Download: Laura Marling – You’re No God
Download: Laura Marling – New Romantic

Buy Alas, I Cannot Swim from Rough Trade. If you’re feeling more flushed you could fork out a load more for the Songbox. Some may say that this is expecting a little too much loyalty from fans of a debut artist, but there you go. I’d say she’s is worth the hype.

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