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Critics Laud Laura Marling’s A Creature I Don’t Know as a Modern Masterpiece

Posted on the 16 September 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost


Critics laud Laura Marling’s A Creature I Don’t Know as a modern masterpiece

Laura Marling. Photo credit: Guus Krol

British singer-songwriter Laura Marling has been described as a precocious talent many times in the three years since she released her first album, Alas I Cannot Swim, aged just 18. With the release of her third album, A Creature I Don’t Know, awestruck elder critics are starting to see the ever-pallid, waif-like singer as transcending time altogether. Long a muse of the new-folk scene (she has recently come under scrutiny in the form of a Noah and the Whale album focused exclusively on her break-up with Charlie Fink, the band’s lead singer), she sets her stall out here as an artist ready to strike out from the midst of her contemporaries. The first album was produced by Fink, the second owed a lot to the characters that were playing on it, this one, according to Marling, is her own: “I’ve got the confidence now, and I know what I want it to sound like, so before anybody else gets their grubby mitts on it, why don’t I put my stamp on it?’”


  • Timelessness. Joshua Love of Pitchfork wrote that Marling’s music feels timeless: not “timeless” in the manner of Adele and Duffy, who are actually evoking a “very specific time that happens to be distant”, but rather entirely “divorced from time.” She’s more interested in the archetypal than the intimate, so at times it can be difficult to tell if these songs come from a “21-year-old Englishwoman or some deathless, wandering spirit.” If not a revealing performer, she’s certainly a commanding one, and comes close on the album to matching Harvey in her mid-1990s reign.
  • Tough stuff. Dan Cairns, writing in The Sunday Times (£), agreed that “the contours and colours of her music seem preordained, even pre-written, as if her songs flow from some ancient spring”. He added that her musical trajectory has been one of fearlessness and “constant inquiry.” This album is much tougher than her earlier efforts, including “soaring assertiveness, raw carnality, fiery anger and utter bleakness”. This album is “her third masterpiece”.
  • Where’s the beast?Over at Drownedinsound, Krystina Nellis voiced a slight disappointment that crops up in many reviews: “Ludicrously literary and filled with the search for that unquantifiable missing something, ironically it feels like there’s something missing here, namely Marling’s own willingness to completely expose her own ‘beast’ [a reference to the central track The Beast].” She may hide behind her creations too much. Nevertheless, the album demands “a level of engagement most artists today simply don’t know how to conjure.”


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