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album review: laura marling, a creature i don’t know

A collection she describes as ‘something with no end or beginning,’ Laura Marling’s third album, A Creature I Don’t Know, is sure to impress. With an angrier, more foreboding tone, this album is very different to her first and second, particularly noticeable in the dark themes that permeate it. Despite being about love and hate, weakness and strength, the album manages to mix light and dark so intricately that at times it is hard to distinguish the difference. What results are lyrics that have the ability to provoke almost any emotion depending on the listener’s interpretation – quite a powerful ability by such a young artist.

For her accompaniment, Marling keeps things simple and plays only in the tune of DGDGBD for all ten tracks. This might imply that the album is repetitive however it is anything but, and as Marling admits, “it is quite a hard tuning”. In an expansion of her band, Marcus Hamblett on horn and banjo and Ruth de Turberville on cello join previous members Matt Ingram on drums and Peter Roe playing the harmonium and keyboards. The results are some spectacular crescendos, particularly in track nine, ‘Sophia’.

Listeners are eased into the album with song, ‘The Muse’, which is all about the discovery of new things and the realisation that perhaps they are not quite for you. It is an easy listening track with quite a jazzy feel to it – quite the fitting introduction for an emotionally heavy compilation.

As the album progresses it gets steadily angrier in tone, until it reaches its peak in track five, ‘The Beast’. This is the culmination of rising tension in previous tracks and is perhaps the darkest we have seen Marling. In the lead up and the aftermath of this track, there are references to it in the form of beasts, the sea, blood and sin, all cleverly interwoven into the fabric of her lyrics. It is an unsurprising, though impressive, reminder of Marling’s lyrical talent.

Track seven, ‘My Friends’, stands out amongst the rest with a very laidback melody. Not normally one to reveal the true meaning of her songs, Marling surprises us by delivering this track in a blunt, almost confessional nature (“I am full of guilt/You will never know how I ache”).

Taking a break from the tension is ‘Night after Night’, a quiet and intimate song. Like many of the ten tracks it sounds like a one-sided conversation, of the type we all try to avoid (“My darling I loved you/I long to become you”). From here the tension seems to only decrease until finally ‘All my rage’ arrives. With a foot-tapping-friendly beat this is the perfect closure to such an expressive collection. Peace is finally found (“I can leave all my rage to the sea and the sun”), and the final melodies are sweet and lilting.

On this album, every song was a stand out and each brought something totally new to the mix. In ‘My Friends’, the lyrics “Why not float around with me?” encourage listeners to give themselves up to the music and just enjoy it. After listening to A Creature I Don’t Know, I can’t help but recommend the same.

A Creature I Don’t Know is out now through EMI Music.

One thought on “album review: laura marling, a creature i don’t know

  1. Pingback: Laura Marling: Live from York Minster | Album Review | Music | Lip Magazine

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