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Singer-songwriters come and go. Some become etched into the familiarity of musical folk law with decades to come; others fall by the wayside despite promise and promotional expertise on their record labels side. Ultimately though, a test of their ability comes in the form of their music - can it relate to a mass audience. Well, this one up before the jury today is Laura Marling with her debut album "Alas, I Cannot Swim".
Released in February 2008 on Virgin Records, this 12-track album was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize that year - a benchmark of an album's brilliance. Not any old rubbish will sit on that list. This dined with musical kings and never lost the common touch. (Waits for reader to nod and go, 'hmmmm interesting metaphor'...now I'll continue!)
She was originally part of the band Noah and the Whale and was linked as in a 'partnership' with the band's frontman Charlie Fink. You'll recognise her vocals on their successful hit "Five Years Time", and also on the Mystery Jets single "Two Doors Down" - which was my first introduction to her.
My second taste of her musical talent came in the form of the opening track from the album; "Ghosts" along with another single "New Romantic" which I recommend you download instantly. Ghosts showcases her guitar playing ability, mesmerising voice and song-writing prowess. Think of her as a cross between Janis Joplin, Katie Melua and Norah Jones in terms of other female solo artists who've graced us before.
The album contains no fancy effects or over-produced, countless instruments. More emphasis is placed on her voice and acoustic guitar. Songs such as "Night Terror" do just what the song suggest - including an almost tribal drum beat which you'd find in the deepest, darkest nightmares, yet don't feel this music is more for the depressed gothic type. On the contrary. It's easy listening and melodic which anyone with an ear for music can appreciate.
Despite it being said about numerous artists before, the maturity of her song writing really does belie her young age. It sounds as if she's been doing it for years such is the competence throughout the album. No such thing as a 'weak, filler track' exists. Instead, from the melodically haunting Ghosts, to the toe tapping yet ponderous "You're No God" to the pitch-perfect "Cross Your Fingers". All that she puts before us begs the question why doesn't she have the public knowledge that other artists with less talent have?
I'd argue that some of her songs are too sombre to 'break' the charts. Too dark and thought-provoking to reach the average commercial pop junkie. What they don't understand could fill a musical warehouse where the likes of Marling and numerous other under-valued musicians sit, waiting on someone new to individually come across them rather than rely on the conveyor belt of commercial pop bands, R n' B stars and punk rockers who merely work with three chords for an entire album rather than realise there's a complete fret board on that guitar...yet the public lap it up. Shame.
Her second album is due out in a couple of months, which I'd already recommend. Oh...and talking of maturity, I've not mentioned her age yet. She's just turned 20. She was born in 1990. Yet the tales she can tell in these songs seems like she's been around far longer. If she's this good now, what will she be like in ten years time??
"Alas....", Marlings debut album was released in 2007 to great critical acclaim and was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. It is an incredibly accomplished piece of work for a first time album, especially considering that Marling was only 17 when this was released, a remarkable fact but one which is easy to forget when you actually listen to it.
This album fits firmly in the folky category. However there are some hints of bluegrass and country elements - not enough to be distracting and probably only apt seeing as that style of music is not a million miles away from folk anyway.
Marling has a mature, plaintive, occasionally mournful and controlled voice which is just beautiful and intoxicating and never lapsing into melodrama. The lyrics are smart, occasionally humorous but often emotive and passionate and largely bittersweet. Be warned that it is a little sweary in places. A lot of the lyrics are subtly cutting which is quite refreshing after hearing a lot of the out-and-out brashness of the likes of Lily Allen. My favourite lyrics in the whole album are in 'Ghosts' where she drily tells a partner, "Lover please, don't fall to your knees, its not like I believe in everlasting love." This sets the tone for the whole album in essence.
The chorus to "Cross Your Fingers" is very humorous - "Cross your fingers, hold your toes, we're all going to die when the building blows."
The production is simple and not overblown and better for it. In places it almost feels as though you could be listening to an acoustic gig. In fact it is largely acoustic with the occasional burst of strings such as in "Tap At My Window" one of the standout tracks. Accordians and trumpets are featured less open but prominent when they do. "Failure"is also a great knowing piece, seemingly about a lover who is a failed musician but does not quite realise that himself. This like a lot of the tracks is blackly funny.
My personal favourite however is "Night Terror", probably the most passionate song on the album, really stirring and I still get hairs on the back of my head when I hear it. If you can, also try to track down a live version of this track which is one of the best live performances I have ever heard - utterly spellbinding.
There are a lot of changes of tone throughout the album which only add to the pleasure of listening to it and goes to prove what a talented musician and songwriter Marling is that this works rather than being distracting.
In conclusion, and as you have probably gathered - I loved this album. Marling is an immense talent and potentially has a great future in front of her. She will never be a populist act but that is no way a criticism. This album has quickly leapt to being one of my favourite of all time and I look forward to seeing her live because on the basis of this she and her band are probably incredible.
Laura Marling is the best singer songwriter of recent years in my opinion. I stumbled across her in the early stages of her career, and fell in love with her debut single 'New Romantic'. At such a tender age, only 18 when this album was released, her voice is incredible and lyrically, her music is poised and very impressively intuitive.
The album opens with 'Ghosts', which was released as a single. The simple guitar runs create a gentle melody, which dies down as Marling declares 'it's not like I believe in everlasting love' in her sweetly cynical voice.
Another favourite of mine is 'Failure' both lyrically and aesthetically. Her voice sounds deliciously husky, accompanied by the soft strains of the guitar, which build into the chorus. The lyrics are clever, mulling on the subjects of imperfection and the higher spirit.
'You're No God' is a bit of a jingly jangly folk song, with sharper crisper guitar playing, leading into the more poppy 'Cross Your Fingers'.
'My Manic and I' is the best song on the album in my opinion, and was very influential in helping me get through a rough time. It's beautiful melody tugs at the heart strings and the lyrics mature and insightful. It features the best lyrics on the album: 'I'm sorry young man I can not be your friend, I don't believe in a fairy tale end, I don't keep my head up all of the time and I find it dull when my heart meets my mind'.
The last two tracks 'Shine' and 'Your Only Doll/Alas I cannot Swim' also trip and tumble beautifully, and Laura's voice is soulful and full. Keep listening past the birdsong for the hidden track, well worth it!!
10/10, best album of last year. Miles ahead of all the other singer/songwriter/poppy girl vocalists that have been churned out these past few years, and Laura is tragically underrated.
I swore I was going to hate this album by Laura Marling, I really did. My husband bought the CD after listening to some of her songs online. I had heard Night Terror and really honestly hated it. So by the time the album 'Alas I Cannot Swim' came in the post, I wasn't really bothered about listening to it. In fact my husband and I had a 'new CD' stand off which he won and got to the Hi-fi before I did! Sulking, I went into the kitchen to do the dishes. But as I washed up, I found myself being charmed by the lyrics and the wonderful voice of young Laura. I dont know why I hadn't heard it before but it suddenly dawned on me that her voice was really soothing and her lyrics really unique.
My favourite song on the album has to be 'The Captain and the Hourglass'. For such a young artist the lyrics are really clever and really beguiling. There is a certain childlike kookiness to the songs and definitely a sparkly underlying magical feel. This song really does encapsulate and bring together all those elements in the album.
So I still dont like the song 'Night Terror', 1 out of 12 isnt bad is it? The rest are simply delicious and if, like me, you are dubious of 18 year old femal vocalists singing the same old 'love me, why dont you love me' crap: then fear not because Laura Marling really does go beyond the typical and is certainly worthy of the acclaim she is beginning to receive.
I first heard of Laura Marling when I went and saw The Maccabees at the Junction in Cambridge, and she was one of the support acts, the first thing I noticed was an attractive girl walk on stage, I must admit I do find her very pretty! However, her set was ok, but I didn't really focus on it that much, it didn't pack the kick it should have, perhaps because her music wasn't what the majority of the crowd were there to see.
I went home, and downloaded a few tracks, this was all before her album was done, so I got a couple of demos, a cover of a Bryan Adams song, and a few others, which just sat on my computer, awaiting to be listened. This happened some months ago, probably around June, and I was instantly smitten!
One thing I do quite a bit, is read random stuff on the internet, and being rather bored I started reading up about Laura, and the first thing I noticed was that I had judged her age wrong, I had assumed her to be around 25 or something, from the brief view I had while she was on stage, and the maturity in her voice, alas no! She is actually just a month younger than me, born February 1st, 1990. That's the sort of thing that amazes me, how successful she has been, and how supremely talented a songwriter she is.
Laura hasn't just done well as a solo singer, she featured on Noah and the Whale's hit song "5 Years Time", The Mystery Jets' "Young Love" and The Rakes' "Suspicious Eyes".
Alas! I cannot Swim was released on 4th February 2008, just days after Laura turned 18, and from it she has released 3 singles, "Ghosts", "Cross your Fingers" and "Night Terror", she is currently working on her next album.
The first track I had known since I downloaded her first tracks, though this version is much better. I find it hard to describe songs like this, unlike my usual Pink Floyd, there is no spectacular music behind the tracks, they are smooth folk songs. The tune is soft and mellow, and Laura's voice fits beautifully over it, with some backing in the chorus, which adds a real sentimentality to the song.
Starting off quieter than its predecessor, "Old Stone" features more of a vocal range in Laura's voice, starting off quiet, with a then melancholy sound. This song, with its muted guitar sound, and organ sounding chords playing subtly in the background gives real atmosphere, before being joined with a near tribal sounding drum beat. Towards the end of the song, the volume picks up for a more dramatic chorus.
Tap at my Window
Another track that I had downloaded before I got the album, another soft song. With just her guitar for the most part of the song before being joined by a violin for a while. This song doesn't really show how good Laura can be, well in my opinion anyway.
This song hit me straight off on the first listening, and makes her sound so much more mature than her age would suggest. Again I have to mention her voice; it is probably the most mesmerising sound in music today, soft, gentle, but with a glint of maturity and kindness. A voice that I would actually describe as "sexy" and not many voices can really boast of that. The lyrics to this song are stronger than some of the others, a particular favourite being:
A preacher pushes me a side and asked to wash my sins i said no, la laa
If he made me in his image, then he's a failure too.
You're no God
A faster paced song that some of the others, underlined with a brush on drum sound as the beat, which leads you to tapping your toes (same as iamasadlittleboy said in his review of the album). This song sounds a bit more "Noah and the Whale" like than some of the other tracks, in fact Laura was in that band and Charlie Fink, the lead singer, helped produce the album.
Cross your Fingers
One of my favourite tracks from the album, with some really good lyrics. The song showcases more talent from Laura than some of the other tracks, perhaps both in the lyrics and the delivery, it is a more lively track, but keeps the same softness to it, one of the real attributes to her music that I so love.
Oh I jumped into your grave and died,
And on my word you'll give up your whole life for me
And you'll be reborn bigger and stronger and less alive.
Crawled out of the Sea
Just two lines repeated through this mid-album interlude. Building tempo as it progresses, with a slight sea shanty sound to it.
My Maniac and I
One of the tracks I do remember hearing when I saw her live, the lyrics to this are perhaps some of the best. This song has a great music video you can see on her website. The song again shows the amazing qualities of her voice, and simplistic music lies underneath. This song again is one of my favourites from the album.
Starting with some ambient sounds, and a soft guitar, before a resilient voice comes in, the music quieter than in other tracks, making her voice stand out more, really adding feeling to the song. It is nothing short of breath taking.
Captain and the Hourglass
Reading iamasadlittleboy's review just before undertaking the writing of this, he described his dislike for this song, compared to other tracks, up to then I had agreed whole-heartedly with his comments, especially the comparisons to some other famous folk artists. However this song is my favourite from the album.
Laura's voice sounds the best from all other tracks, and the music has more delicacy behind it than many of the others, with some smooth reverbs in the background, soft notes. The song has some of the best written lyrics too, such as
Well I sold my soul to Jesus and since then I've had no fun
This song packs a real punch, and the stings in the latter half of the song are so moving. The music is more layered, piano, strings, guitar. It is just incredible, and on this song alone, I would say the album is the best I have brought in a long time.
It took me a few listens to get into this song, and the lyrics, musically simple, lyrically not so. Laura's voice in this song is enchanting, and it feels like she is speaking directly into you.
Your Only doll (Dora)
Apparently the last track on the album, this song is infused with the sounds of birds tweeting, adding a real summery relaxation feel to it. Laura's voice brings this further. Not a massivly stunning track from the album, and not my favourite, it really is just a cover for...
Alas! I cannot Swim
The hidden track, after 3 minutes or so of bird noise, we reach this little peach. A beautiful piece with multi-tracked vocals (or a backing singer I am not sure), which adds some enchantment to the song. The lyrics to this song say more than many of the others, and offer more of a message:
"Work more, earn more, live more and have more fun", don't be afraid to go for things you want, and remember always to live.
I am sincerely looking forward to Laura's second album, and the chance to go and see her live again, she is certainly a brilliantly talented singer and songwriter, who I expect great things from. Listeners of folk music should like her, especially fans of Frank Turner - would love to see those guys to a duet together. Laura is most defiantly something to look out for!!
I first came across Laura Marling completely by accident when she supported the Macabees in Birmingham's Carling Academy the year before last. Unlike most other support acts, she silenced the crowd in an instant, simply by opening her mouth...
I was brought 'Alas I cannot Swim' as a gift not so long ago, just before I was lucky enough to see Laura Marling perform again, and it has become one of my most listened to albums.
If you are a fan of folk music, especially the kind that seems to have been mixed with the quirky ideas of a new generation, then this is for you. A wonderful combination of heart, humour and above all a very talented young musician, this album is modern folk music at its best.
Whether you revel in the honesty of 'You're no god' or quiver at the sinister 'Night Terror', I found that this was an absolute gem; only over shadowed by the fact that no recording studio could ever capture the real magic of this performer...she is magical.
If I have one fault to pick with this album; it ends too soon! Most of these songs are short and often quite snappy; great to listen to on the move, although after a few goes you might just be too tempted to sing along to risk going out in public with it on your MP3 player!
The UK industry needs a girl like Laura Marling!
For many who have heard the album, I'm sadly going to tell you I doubt any of you will disagree with much of what I say, for those who haven't listened to it, thos most important part of this review is "The album is a BIG TIME GROWER" give it a few listens before throwing it out.
Laura Marling's debut album "Alas I Cannot swim" is an album I requested for christmas after having loved "Ghosts", which would be the debut single by Laura. Despite not knowing this until I came to write this review, "Cross Your Fingers/Crawled Out of the Sea" would also be released as a duel single, and "Night Terror" was released as the final single from the album.
The first time I realised she wasn't some olden days singer (because Colin Murray does play some rather random stuff) was when I found out THIS album was up for a mercury music award (Laura was beaten by Elbow and their album "The Seldom Seen Kid"), but this added publicity should help her show what she's really able to do.
The album the first 2 times I tried to listen to it managed to get to the third track before I wisely declared "She's a one trick pony, Ghosts is brilliant the rest seems to be pretty crap", but after finally sticking it on my phone and giving it a listen properly I've got to admit I've totally fallen in love with the album
The album opens with the wonderful song "Ghosts" (or "Ghosts (that broke my heart")) which is personally my favourite track from the album, and the song that got me into Miss Marling after it was played on Colin Murray's Radio 1 show. The song is high tempo'd catchy and yet simple folk, that paints brilliant pictures. Lyrically is't one of those smart but easy songs, vocally Luara is probably at her best in the track, and musically it's the most accessible on the CD. If your a fan of Folk you'll love it, if you like softer sounding pop you will like it, if you like metal...sod off and get a Maiden CD >_>.
Old Stone is second, now (as I said earlier) I had a listen to the first three songs (loving the opening track), before turning the CD off and calling it the crappiest album I'd heard in a long time. But the album, and this song, are real growers, I won't say I'm a fan of the track, but I sure don't dislike it as such, for the vast part it's the worst song on the album, but thats not meanign to say it's a crap song...just probably a 5 out of 10 sort of thing you know.
Tap at my window is the third track on the album, and when Laura first starts singing your thinking to yourself "This girl can't really be 18 can she?", the lyrical genius of a Buckley and the musical traits of a Nick Drake thrown in with some hurt romantic. If you shut your eyes and let that voice take you on a ride, like I seem to be doing regularly, this is one of the most deep rides the album has to offer. Though again not one of my favourites off the album, the song shows more glimpses of Laura's real talent, her vocal delivery.
Failure, is anything but, and it's one of the true highlights on the disk, lyrically it again starts seeming like something very special which with the simple guitar backing Marling just starts to again work wonders in our ears. When she gets to the hook your automatically smiling and again wondering quite what the girl will do with her potential.
You're no God, a fast pacey track which reminded me of Alanis Morisette for some reason (could be the word god if nothing else). The tempo has you tapping your toes, and although one of the worst vocally, as the music seems to do the leading through out the track still sits well with most of the album.
Cross you're fingers, one of the top 3 tracks, and one that makes me think of a Tom Baxter but female, sexy and fully using their talents (hey I'm a big Baxter fan i just feel he's more talented than we see). Vocally and lyrically this is it, Marling hitting the big time, amazing track, "Cross your fingers, Hold your toes, Were all gonna die when the building blows" is among my favourite lines from any song I've heard recently. If the album was full of this sort of total musical package we needn't be questioning the future as it'd be nailed on success.
Crawled out of the sea, even though it's a mid album interlude it's still brilliant, if lyrically a bit disappointing (2 lines are all it consists of) the music and vocal make up for it to make it one of the nicest interludes I've heard in a long time. If interludes must be done (Sufjan stevens take note) do them like this.
My Manic and I, is another one of my favourite tracks, vocally it's inspiring, lyrically it's one of the cleverest, musically it's simple but brilliant. Catchy hook, brilliantly performed, much like "Cross your fingers" this shows the girl has talent, it's upto her what she does with it, but hopefully unlike Matthew Jay and both Buckley's (who I've already compared her to) she won't lose it all to some untimely incident as she has the potential to put british folk back on the scene. The poignant touch of Nick Drake does her no harm at all, in a song that really puts her in such high company.
Night Terror, another one that blows me away vocally and lyrically, as if almost a trade mark, a simple folksy guitar backing is mostly all the accompainment that's needed, as the album keeps the high standard of the latter half. The hook is another where Marling's voice grabs you and takes you by the hand and leaves you with a jaw thats hit the floor.
The Captain and The Hourglass, despite how ever many times I've now heard this album, I can't really recall this track, even listening to it as I'm writing I cant remember hearing it, so I think it's fair to say this is the least out standing of the track. Thats again, not to say it's rubbish, because it's not, it probably harms the track more in that it's in the latter part of the album where the quality really does stay at such a high level that if the song isn't mind blowing it won't stand out.
Shine is the 11th track on the album, and lyrically it again seems to just hit the spot, vocally it kinda seems like Laura is often tryign to do it acapello near the start, and in fact the simple musical backing is stripped to the most very basic. The chorus is brilliantly done vocally, simply done lyrically and like I keep saying this is a girl who very well may have a nailed on mega future, just please god Laura stay the feck away from Miss Winehouse's idea of living.
Your only doll (Dora), is the last track on the listing, and like most of the latter part of the album the song is just so freaking brilliant, vocally as is often the case, Marling show's a frail side, yet you know from the ability she's showing, she has no need to feel frail. Lyrically it's again brilliant with some really smart lines and some effective metaphors, the most sexual of the songs (lyrically)...but lets not go there (mainly because all us guys listening are saying..."lucky guy" to who ever it's about).
The final track segues into the real last track, which is oddly what I'd call the title track (don't know if the hidden track is officially called "Alas I cannot Swim" but it'd seem the obvious title). The track has no reason for being hidden it's like many brilliant, poignant, vocally excellent, lyrically inspirational god damn it it's excellent. Really one of the best so why must we listen to 3 mins of bird tweets between "Dora" and this one?
I'll tell you what. I'm so keen on this album, that I've been avoiding reviewing it the fear that when I start analysing it, I'll find things I don't like about it. However, I have a feeling i don't have to worry about that!
Laura Marling is a folk-pop singer from Hampshire who released this, her debut album, in February 2008. 'Alas I cannot Swim' was nominated for the 2008 Mercury Prize, and reached no. 45 in the UK albums chart - I cannot understand why it failed to reach even more impressive heights.
As an artist, Laura Marling has had more success as a backing vocalist for other artists. Her work on '5 years time' by her old band Noah and the Whale is perhaps most notable - the single reached 7th on the UK singles chart, higher than any of her individual songs. She was also featured on 'Young Love' by Mystery Jets, which is one of my favourite songs ever. This song also exceeded any of the achievements of her individual work. I find this a real shame, because this album is full of class.
2 Old Stone
3 Tap At My Window
5 You're No God
6 Cross Your Fingers
7 (Interlude) Crawled Out Of The Sea
8 My Manic And I
9 Night Terror
10 The Captain And The Hourglass
12 Your Only Doll (Dora)
The opening track 'Ghost' is a slow melodic song about past lovers and new romance. It is neither innocent nor overly gritty, with the accepting lyrics enveloping the listener. She manages to convey the loss of romantic ideals in this loving manner, as if talking to a loved one. It is so effective, and her vocals sound amazing on the track.
'Old Stone' takes a similar approach. Marling's musings about loneliness and isolation are soulful and melodic, with this familiar sadness that is present in all of Marling's songs. The soft backing instruments are almost inaudible, with the fading reel acting as an unusual end to a track, and a good intro to 'Tap at my window'.
The track is unusual, with the condoning of family values and romantic denial combining unusually. The stereotypical idea of having a boy throwing stones at a window to catch a girl's attention is overly used in literature and entertainment, so to have the girl reject the boy is a novel approach to the concept.
I must admit, I rarely listen to 'Failure', due to my love of the later track 'My Manic And I'. However, 'Failure' is in itself a good song which deserves a mention, with its harsh lyrics providing a moving interlude to other better tracks. There is a lyric I'd like to mention;
"Don't cry child
You've got so much more to live for
Don't cry child
You've got something I would die for"
The envy and jealousy in Marling's voice during these lines holds the song together, and prevents it from becoming a description of other people's failures.
'You're No God' is one of the fastest tracks on the album. Its approach of describing someone's false arrogance is really effective, though I think the lyrics are not as strong as they could have been. This is my least favourite song on the album, although the band instruments in the background sound immense.
The pace is maintained in the next song, 'Cross Your Fingers'. It sounds quite good, but is probably the song that required the least effort to write. It's refrain, 'Cross your fingers, hold your toes/We're all gonna die when the building blows' is not particularly strong, but it is effective enough to keep the listener's attention.
The change in pace into 'Crawled into the Sea', is unusual, as are the continual pace changes throughout this song. I think it works due to its uniqueness, and has this idealistic portrayal of love and care. However, the best thing about this song is that it is incredibly short, and followed by the best song on the album.
'My Manic And I' is a new romantic approach to lyrics. It abandons the utopic approach to lyricism in favour of this unique style of realism. The backing instruments sound absolutely amazing, and the song sounds so touching and realistic that it is impossible to not fall in love with it. The final refrain, 'My nihilist, my happy man, my manic and I', is strange but emotional, and an effective end to the song.
I must admit, due to my love of 'My Manic And I', I tend to listen to it on repeat. However, recently I've started to listen to the rest of the album, and I was not at all disappointed. "Night Terror' is the new single off the album, and once again it has this tender helpless sound which resonates through the whole album. The heavy beat works really well on this track, and I think that it is possibly the song that defines Marling's style most effectively.
'Captain and The Hourglass' has a unique sound to it, but is, in general, lost in the dregs of the album. The lyric 'The wind and I, we speak the same, but he don't hear so well' is the only standout moment in the track, where Laura Marling seems to actually mean the lyrics.
'Shine' has the same problems as 'Captain and The Hourglass', but to a more extreme level. It is completely lost at the end of the album, and the only lines from it which I could remember were 'I can never go outside/I will never go back to being blind'. Its a shame, because it is a pretty good track, but by this point in the album the audience's attention is almost completely lost.
However, strangely the final track on the album 'My Only Doll' is not affected by this. I think it is because it sounds so different from the rest of the album that it is immediately identifyable. I love the lyrics of this song, although the continual presence of birds chirping does grate a bit. It is testament to Marling's brilliance that the chirping birds do not make the track completely awful.
The hidden track, 'Alas I cannot Swim', is short and sweet. It is a bit unmemorable, but is a good metaphoric song. Its description of the inability of people to take a risk is easy to identify with, and the song is in general a valid final track.
In case you haven't already guessed, I love Laura Marling's voice. It is really unique and portrays emotion very effectively. She sounds a bit like that Diana off X-factor (yes, I know I shouldn't admit to watching x-factor, but it is true!), but even better. Her vocals sound mature, but they have this child-like, lost edge to them which makes her songs immediately recognisable and individual.
Personally, I like the artwork on the front of the album, but I can understand why people might think it a bit overcrowded. Its woodland theme doesn't really tie in with the title of the album or the general theme of the album, apart from the birdsong at the end.
The album is a general success. I think there are a couple of off notes, but no real lows. The album is slow and melodic, with many of the songs resembling lullabies. It is, in my opinion, the epitome of a good folk-rock album.
If you're into Laura Marling, other good artists to listen to are Cat Power, Emmy The Great, Mystery Jets, Noah And The Whale and Kimya Dawson.
I came across this little gem or a singer/songwriter whilst browsing on I tunes. They do a free single every week and "night terror" was the song of the week. After hearing it, I bought her album and have been hooked by her spell bounding folksy songs ever since.
Laura Marling is only 18!!!!!! I nearly fell off my chair when I learned this, her lyrics are so poetic and wise and honest. She is old for her years, her accuracy is impeccable. It's her honesty that really forces you to listen to the abstract nature of her songs. Her voice is really pure and mellow. It's funny because this album has made me cry, smile, think of good times, think of bad times, numb me, comfort me, put me to sleep and evoked some powerful emotions in me. I personally couldn't ask for any more from an album.
Not sure of any of you do this, but sometimes music makes me feel like something I'm not....llike
"Man, I feel like a woman" by Shania Twain. This has the tendency to make me feel like I ooze sex and confidence and tend to "strut" somewhat as I walk.
"Horse with no name" by America. This makes me feel like I am on a horse so perhaps I do more of a canter or a trot if you're lucky.
Some muse songs make me feel like I am in space so I may walk slower and maybe loll my head from side to side a bit etc etc.
I hope you are getting the picture...none of these walks are intentional or hugely obvious may I add....but the thing about this album is it make me feel like I am a hippy in a floral dress in fields sprinkling petals....this album makes me love the world and want to make peace not war :-D Now this is only my interpretation and I'm sure it will be far from yours....but I just thought I'd tell you. This is the general feel I get from the album, but different songs make me feel differently depending on my mood which is great because I feel like the album is constantly adapting to suit my needs.
So, the Album is called "Alas I cannot swim". I get the impression that she has taken things that she has experienced in her 18 years and draws on it to to create this album. She faces struggles and situations and as a listener we are taken on a journey with her.
and the songs on it are....
2. Old Stone
3. Tap At My Window
5. You're No God
6. Cross Your Fingers
7. (Interlude) Crawled Out Of The Sea
8. My Manic And I
9. Night Terror
10. The Captain And The Hourglass
12. Your Only Doll (Dora)
There isn't one of these songs that I don't like and I just want to touch on a few that really have an impact on me.
My personal favourites are.................
"Ghosts" this is about someone who is scarred by "a ghost that broke my heart before I met you" - someone who has emotional baggage. "It turned out I'd been following him, and he'd been following me". This is one of the most catchiest songs on the album. Despite her really calm, matter of fact, light vocals the beat is really quite fast and I struggle to keep my feet still.
"Night Terror" I think this for me is the most haunting song. It's the one I find myself singing the most. "I woke up and he was screaming I'd left him dreaming I roll over and shake him tightly And whisper 'if they want you Oh they're gonna have to fight me.' Oh fight me" There is something really terrifying about the simplicity of her voice in this song.
"Old Stone" is such a timeless track, in which a standing stone -"10,000 years and you're still on your own" - triggers thoughts on the comforts of being alone and self-sufficient. "Old Stone" is made up of icy isolated verses that are warmed by rich harmonies and rhythm of the chorus. Its forgiving lyrics give compassion to those who fail to change their ways.
"My Manic & I" I think in this song she is addressing herself "I can't control you, I don't know you well, these are the reasons I think that you're ill"
I could go on, because every one of the songs on this album are so beautifully written and composed, but I don't want to spoil it for you. Go out and get this album, I don't think you'll be disappointed.
Laura Marling goes against the traditional poppy style and has incorporated so many things to lure you into her music. Producer Charlie Fink has helped to create the backdrops of everything from birds whistling, French horns, boys choirs, violins, glasses being rattled, rain, harmonies, melodies etc etc. These soundscapes create just the right atmosphere for Laura's sensitive and haunting voice. It tells a story.
The soundscapes were often very realistic and sometimes last longer than you'd expect between tracks. This is nice though as it means that the album flows from track to track and it really makes sense. However, I'm not going to lie to you..... sometimes I felt a bit delirious as nature sounds often sound so real that I've seen myself on the tube looking around to see where the birds are. Or walking on the sheltered side of the pavement to stay out of the "rain".
I purchased the album from I tunes and it cost me £7.99
I know it is available on amazon for a similar price.
This album is so unique and completely worth the money.
Thanks for reading.
It seems that talented artists are getting picked up a lot earlier these days. The case in point for this would have to be 18 year old singer/songwriter Laura Marling. Having just turned 18 3 days before the release of this debut album, Alas I Cannot Swim, Marling really shows a sense of maturity well above her age. The youngster from Reading has a bright future ahead of her, even if she was turned away from one of her own gigs for being underage. Since then she has managed to sell out smaller venues on her own and tour with some bigger names increasing her profile all the time.
Of course she hasn't just been working on her own material as guest appearances on tracks by The Rakes, Mystery Jets and Noah and The Whale have really created a big buzz around this young lady. In fact her collaborations with Charlie Fink of Noah and the Whale has seen him produce her debut album. The album has an incredibly mature edge to it that would without doubt have you thinking Marling was a lot older. Instead her life experience in her short time seems to have been quite vast.
It is though her ability to really put it into words that really captures your imagination whilst you listen to this album. From the opening bars of the opening track "Ghost" to the final moments of "Your Only Doll", Marling takes the listener on an incredible journey through her life up until now. It is without doubt a touching album that has a very emotional and personal feel to it. The albums tempo is in keeping with this theme and it's slow, relaxed progression serves only to give the lyrics a sense of more powerful meaning.
Even from a musical point of view the use of instruments within her tracks seems to have Marling doing something few would dare. The majority of the album is her and her guitar, acoustic songs with a nice rhythm but very purposeful meaning. Of course she does have the addition of drums, strings and the like where they are needed but it is fair to say that this is quite sparingly and works incredibly well. The album has a nice tempo, it's got a soothing sound to it and when mixed with her lyrics it is quite a moving 40 minutes of vocals.
The release of her debut album, around a similar time to Adele and Duffy, has obviously seen comparisons drawn. Marling however seems to have received less of the press than the other 2, but that shouldn't take anything away from her. I think it's fair to say that the youngster has perhaps the more impressive voice of the 3. It seems to really draw you into what she's singing and that for me really puts her out in front of the other two artists. She also seems to have more potential and with maturity like this on a debut album I think she has a very long future ahead of her.
If there is one flaw with Marling's debut, it is perhaps that the song content is a little too deep and that will certainly put people off. That is not to say that this is a criticism, but it does make the album a little harder to get into. It is fair to say that given time however this album will not fail to impress, much like the young lady that this beautiful album has come from. With highlights including the amazing opening track "Ghosts" to the haunting melody and deep feeling of "Old Stone" show that Alas I Cannot Swim is certainly something special.
So the final question would be, having owned the album for 2 months would I recommend it. Well if the rest of this doesn't give away the answer it would have to be a resounding yes. This is an amazing album from someone so young. Her ability to write an emotionally moving song is something else and unlike a couple of the other female solo artists around at the moment I think Marling's brand of Pop Folk will be around for a long time to come. If you are a fan of the likes of Turin Brakes, Portishead or Ricahrd Hawley then this album is a must buy.
Amazon marketplace: £6.98
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Old Stone
3 Tap At My Window
5 You're No God
6 Cross Your Fingers
7 (Interlude) Crawled Out Of The Sea
8 My Manic And I
9 Night Terror
10 The Captain And The Hourglass
12 Your Only Doll (Dora)