Album: Laura Marling, Alas, I Cannot Swim (Virgin)
Young, gifted and folk
Sunday 10 February 2008
Here be talent. Marling is young, pretty and gifted with the ability to make words tumble. So what, you might say. Have you seen YouTube and MySpace lately? They're chock full of young, pretty women with guitars tumbling over themselves to make their space intersect with yours. This one's a bit different, though. Marling isn't ingratiating, for a start. And if she's mannered, then, you feel, it'll be gone in the morning. Also, she has more than one trick. So why is the lady at the top of this review not ovating on her feet? Because these are early days. For all the lexical rolling and tumbling, the talent on display here is callow in its reach – she can flick with remarkable ease through her portfolio of observations on love and love's locations (from here to Shepherd's Bush Green) but there isn't a single song here with the bite to reach inside and lock you in for ever. Mind you, "Night Terror" comes very close. Narrative songs this quotidianly spooky are normally the preserve of Aimee Mann. The sound? Kind of Thames Valley indie folk, with lots of space for acoustic guitars, strings and celeste-type things to reveal Marling's voice as the softly felted wisp it is. Remember Harriet from the Sundays?
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