On a time-line of Laura Marling’s musical journey ‘A Creature I Don’t Know’ is her third album, however it is more than just a third album, it’s a huge marker in her career. Breaking onto the music scene at the age of 16, appearing on Jools Holland and playing slots at Glastonbury at 18, Marling’s musical achievements in such a short space of time are astounding for someone still so very young, only 21.
This year was a significant year for Laura; she received recognition in the form of a Brit Award for Best Female and an NME award for Best Solo artist, having previously received nominations for Mercury album of the year in 2008 and 2010 and the BBC folk award for best original song.
In the space of three years she has moved onwards and upwards from her debut album ‘Alas I Cannot Swim’ choosing to move away from producing an album so closely with someone else, admitting that ‘Alas I Cannot Swim’ is as much her album as producer Charlie Fink’s.
‘A Creature I Don’t Know’ is Laura Marling stepping confidently forward with a nylon stringed guitar, a tinkling of piano, sweep of strings and a twang of banjo. There is no need for the heavy acoustic crescendo’s heard previously in songs such as ‘Devils Spoke’, or the fast paced guitar in ‘New Romantic’, the focus is on Marling’s lyrics and voice. The single ‘Sophia’ builds in a complex, gentle way, the accompanying guitar never overpowering but simply complimenting her smooth vocals. There is a country influence on this album, heard in the rolling rhythms and banjo of opening track ‘The Muse’, previously this was only hinted at on her debut album and completely abandoned on her second.
The album flows towards ‘The Beast’ marking the half way point in the album, it has a bold arrangement of distorted guitars and Marling’s vocals are an almost entranced hush in places, really adding to the power and depth of the track. There is an optimism heard in this album and it is clear how far Marling’s songwriting and arranging has progressed. Ending track ‘All My Rage’ is a beautiful example of this, with its uplifting chorus and jangling dreamy accompaniments.
This album proves that Marling doesn’t need to be associated with Mumford and Sons, Noah and the Whale and the London scene anymore. In the space of three albums she has grown as an artist and a songwriter, bringing together an album that warrants more than the tag of a folk singer/songwriter. This album has strengthened the foundations for Laura as the future of British female songwriters.
A Creature I Don’t Know is released on Monday 12th September, and is playing a now SOLD OUT show at Winchester Cathedral on 15th October.
A pre release stream of the album is available from The Guardian website.