Album Review: Laura Marling – A Creature I Don’t Know

This time next week, folk fans up and down the country will be embracing their new haul of sensational albums, including records from Slow Club, Peggy Sue and Glenn Jones.
However, Laura Marling’s A Creature I Don’t Know is likely to be the most talked about.
Why? Because asides from the fact that she is the most well known artist of the set, and that her previous two albums have been nominated for Mercury Prize Awards, and that for her age, she is one of the most unbelievably talented singer-songwriters of our generation and thoroughly deserved her BRIT and NME awards last year for Best British Female…asides from all that…well, this record is just completely brilliant.
Laura admitted last week in an interview with the Guardian, that she has
‘got the confidence now’.
And boy oh boy can you tell. A Creature I Don’t Know features a Laura Marling drenched in assurance and belief, while the new tracks are steeped in passion, heart and soul. Moreover, there are darker shades to her music than we have heard before. As well as the expected style references to Joni Mitchell, Sandy Denny, etc, Marling now draws on the likes of Leonard Cohen for influence. A character that runs through the record, for example, is The Beast, something that brings with it a plethora of deep, quickening and intense sounds and a much intended, electric bite (hear The Muse and The Beast) – a further sign of  Laura’s growth and progression.
Like previous records, she draws on inspiration from literature, myths and fables, and character invention. Writers such as Robertson Davies have had a large impact, as has a strong interest in the life of Elaine, John Steinbeck’s third wife (hear Salinas). Yet this album also provides clearer indications to her personal experiences and emotions than say I Speak Because I Can, for example. This past year has certainly been a rollercoaster for Laura. But with such a ride, a richer and more mature sound has evolved; along with the now expected collection of delightfully prodigious lyrics.
As well as the intense and raw approach to tracks such as The Beast, Marling creates the come-down, the emotion that flows in it’s wake, the soul that is laid bare as a repercussion. Night After Night is one of the most beautiful, heartfelt and vocally-stunning songs she has ever created, yet is so openly heartbreaking, that it brought producer Ethan Johns extremely close to tears…and I doubt he’ll be the only one.
He longs for the answers, as all of us must
He longs for the woman who will conquer his lust
He screams in the night, I scream in the day
We weep in the evening and lie naked and pray
Other tracks, including the single Sophia and a personal favourite, My Friends, add further evidence and fuel to the raging fire that is Laura Marling’s ever-growing talent. Rest In The Bed is delicately haunting, while album closer All My Rage is essentially three bouncing minutes of slightly strange lyrics and a fantastic, trad-folk carnival of sound.
A Creature I Don’t Know is a superb third-album from Marling, blending together all the deepest, rawest and most haunting emotions that love and passion can create. Despite the most minor and easily forgivable flaws, ie: the conversationally presented lines in The Muse for example, the 21 year-old has created not only a magnificent record, but has been both influenced by and created characters and feelings that we can all relate to – even if we do not always will it, The Beast is buried within us all, ready to pounce.

Dom Kay


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