|October 6, 2011 | SOUND||Posted by lisa|
The first time I heard Laura Marling’s New Romantic, I felt cheated. Somehow, myself and the world around me had hid this amazing singer/songwriter from me; Marling made me believe in the power and beauty of a woman, a voice and a guitar once again.
Like Joni Mitchell and Carole King before her, and Florence Welch and Amy Winehouse in contemporary music, Marling is an all-round talent; vocally and lyrically, she carries herself with tenderness and creative strength. Her latest record, A Creature I Don’t Know, is testament to the young (three EPs and three full-length albums at the age of twenty-one) Marling’s creative endowment.
The dark country of The Muse opens the record and we find Marling is utilizing less of her exquisite Southern England accent than her previous work, though this shouldn’t put off fans, both potential and new. I Was Just A Card is beautifully sparse, growing into intense rolls of drums and smoky, subtle horns; to compare A Creature I Don’t Know to her earlier work- like New Romantic (2007)- is to see massive changes in Marling’s creative persona; her voice has less British twang, her language is less colloquial, her voice is stronger, but with the same husky vocalisation.
The gorgeous sway of Don’t Ask Me Why is like a Hollywood torch song bred with someone like Jewel’s finer work, as is the storytelling lyricism and Bob Dylan-style enunciation of Salinas. The Beast‘s papery guitar strings sail into big rock and roll smashes; guitar riffs and noodling like fire, accompanied by biting lyrics: “I give you the best advice I can/ What I suggest is you be grateful there’s no blood on my hands, and assume yourself weaker to the fall of man”
In My Friends, amid chorale-style backing vocals and speedy, raspy guitar, Marling’s voice becomes substantially sweeter; more jovial, though the subject matter is similar to that of the rest of the record: confusion, guilt, wonderment.
Single Sophia grows in intensity slowly; beginning with Marling’s coy drawl, the background “ooohs” return to lay a foundation for the song’s blossoming into a country-folk fiesta with sliding guitar sounds and a big ol’ sing-along and flourish at song’s end.
The album ends with All My Rage and Marling’s lilting fun-folk hoedown vocals, channelling a sort of Irish jig vocal melded with Americana gospel-country; the refrain “I leave my rage to the sea and sun” breaking one’s heart to hear. Get into it.
Words: Lisa Dib