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#37 – St. VincentLaura Marling

A Creature I Don’t Know


Sep 23, 2011 #37 – St. Vincent Bookmark and Share

Laura Marling has never sounded her age. Wise beyond her years? Nah, most of the time she sounds wise beyond anyone’s years. Having left school at 16 to pursue music, she was a veteran long before her 2008 debut, Alas, I Cannot Swim. Her career has played as if she was prepping to take over the folkie crown from Bob Dylan, dispensing wisdom and guitar licks with a near-classic grace. Now on her third album, Marling continues her growing tradition of asking the difficult questions about life and death. While she’s still yet to fully let her hair down, the world-wary troubadour manages to breathe life into her classically cautious compositions.

Already a notable presence on the London folk scene, Marling takes small steps forward as an instrumentalist, introducing a blue-note jazz opening to “I Was Just a Card,” a surprising rock twist to Americana-stomper “Sophia,” and a down-right gritty chorus to “The Beast” (a track far more believable than the faux-anger of “Rage”). Still, too many songs rely on the predictable pattern forged over the course of her catalogue. Whispered verses with solo guitar explode into a full-instrumental chorus, usually ending in some lyrical epiphany. It’s all quite pretty, but also quite predictable.

Marling’s saving grace is the eloquence in which she expresses emotion. “I know how you feel/I know it’s not right, but it’s real,” she sings on “Don’t Ask Me Why,” splitting the difference between ennui and acceptance. From pondering her acceptance into heaven to her mother’s curly hair, Marling’s attention is so fully held (and in turn so captivating) it’s difficult to believe other issues exist. While her music still belies her age, her laser-beam narrative focus still indicates a young adult willing to believe that everything matters. And under her masterful storytelling, for a moment it does. (

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September 23rd 2011

“the faux-anger of ‘Rage’”

You mean that song with the chorus “all my rage has gone / I leave my rage to the sea and the sun”?

Yeah, that one.