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Folk - Released March 19, 2010 | Virgin Records

Distinctions 5/6 de Magic - Sélection du Mercury Prize
British folksinger Laura Marling’s 2008 debut, Alas I Cannot Swim, showed more depth and maturity than one would expect from a (then) 18-year-old. Marling’s expressive, smoky voice and penchant for lyrical matter that didn’t reference clubbing landed her a well-earned Mercury Prize nomination, as well as a considerable amount of hype concerning her follow-up. Released in 2010, I Speak Because I Can delivers on nearly every level, upping both the production value (thanks to Ryan Adams and Kings of Leon producer Ethan Johns and fellow indie folk darlings Mumford & Sons) and the songwriting. Love, death, and heartbreak are hardly new subjects when it comes to folk music, but they refresh themselves so often in our lives that their relevance becomes tenfold with each new bite, scrape, or blow to the head, a notion that Marling explores with both guarded wisdom and elegant petulance on standout cuts like "Devil’s Spoke," "Made by Maid," "Rambling Man," and "Goodbye England." At its heart, I Speak Because I Can is a stoic, bare-bones singer/songwriter record, which makes the tastefully peppered bursts of explosive percussion, banjo, mandolin, and backing vocals from the Mumford gentlemen all the more effective and not just window dressing to cover up a cookie-cutter storefront. That said, it’s Marling’s enigmatic voice (think Florence & the Machine and Fiona Apple), clever phrasing (think Joni Mitchell), and adherence to the alternately warm and wintry vibe of late-'60s/early-'70s classic rock and folk (think Led Zeppelin III) that listeners will keep coming back to, regardless of the packaging. ~ James Christopher Monger

Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2013 | Virgin

Distinctions Sélection du Mercury Prize

Folk - Released February 11, 2008 | Virgin Records

Distinctions Sélection du Mercury Prize
Due to her youth (16 when she first hit Myspace, 17 when signed to an imprint of EMI, and 18 when her debut album came out), perky-cute looks and extremely British diction, singer/songwriter Laura Marling got a lot of comparisons to Lily Allen in her early buzz, but the quietly compelling Alas I Cannot Swim is not at all a frothy pop confection. A folk-tinged AAA pop record based on Marling's alluringly husky voice and graceful acoustic guitar, Alas I Cannot Swim would be more aptly compared to the likes of Feist, Keren Ann, or Regina Spektor. (In the album's press kit, Marling reveals her primary influence to be Bonnie "Prince" Billy, which also seems appropriate.) Although not to draw too forbidding a comparison, opening track and first single "Ghosts" is most strongly reminiscent of Joni Mitchell circa For the Roses, both in Marling's expressive vocal phrasing and the expert shifts in the arrangement between solo acoustic passages and full-band sections, not to mention an excellently deployed string section. That old-school '70s singer/songwriter vibe predominates throughout the album, in fact. There's one straight-up pop song here, the deceptively chipper-sounding "Cross Your Fingers" ("...hold your toes/We're all gonna die when the building blows" continues the sweetly sung chorus), but aside from that, Alas I Cannot Swim is the kind of album that takes a couple of listens for its charms to completely sink in. Rather than swath every track in prominent, ear-grabbing hooks, Marling and producer Charlie Fink choose to keep the decorations off in the distance on songs like "The Captain and Hourglass," where swells of pedal steel stay buried deep in the mix under Marling's hypnotic guitar line and quietly insistent vocals. There's every chance that Laura Marling will get lost in the shuffle as the unexpected commercial success of Feist's The Reminder leads major labels to unleash hordes of similarly talented female singer/songwriters, but Alas I Cannot Swim is far better than the average coffee house-endorsed girly pop. ~ Stewart Mason

Alternative & Indie - Released March 23, 2015 | Caroline Records

Distinctions 4F de Télérama
Following in the dusty, sun-baked footsteps of 2013's mesmerizing Once I Was an Eagle, Laura Marling's fifth studio outing feels even more rooted in the California desert, doubling down on the former's penchant for pairing breezy, American west coast mysticism with bucolic, Sandy Denny-era English folk, but with a subtle shift in architecture. Marling's gift for gab and deft finger-picking are still front and center, but with the self-produced Short Movie, she's expanded her sonic palette by plugging in. While by no means a straight-up electric guitar album, Short Movie does bristle with a current of nervy energy, and that coffee-black, post-midnight buzz is the fuel that gives cuts like "False Hope," "Don't Let Me Bring You Down," "Gurdjieff's Daughter," and the hypnotic title track their swagger. That said, Marling is an unrepentant folkie, and those late-night blasts of tube-driven self-evaluation and raw verisimilitude eventually give way to bleary-eyed mornings spent assessing the wreckage, and the album's best moments arrive via the aged wood and steel of her trusty acoustic. The dreamy, psych-tinged opener "Warrior" invokes Nick Drake's "Road" with its bluesy, open tuning and refrain of "I can't be your horse anymore, you're not the warrior I'm looking for," while the equally Drake-ian "Feel Your Love" offers up a less defensive, but no less weary stance toward potential suitors, positing "you must let me go before I get old, I need to find someone who really wants to be mine." Avoiding complacency has always been the light that guides the precocious singer/songwriter (only 25 at the time of release, this is Marling's fourth album in just five years), and Short Movie does little to temper that restlessness. It may lack the cohesion of her last outing, and her steadfast derision of anything resembling a hook can be taxing, but it makes up for its meandering with a strength of character that eludes many of her contemporaries. An old soul to say the least, Marling continues to evolve as both a musician and a writer, albeit subtly, and we're all the better for it. ~ James Christopher Monger

Folk - Released March 11, 2008 | Virgin Records


Alternative & Indie - Released July 29, 2013 | Virgin


Pop - Released December 21, 2017 | More Alarming Records

Pop - Released March 10, 2017 | More Alarming Records


Alternative & Indie - Released March 10, 2017 | More Alarming Records

Hi-Res Booklet
Semper Femina, a Latin phrase borrowed from Virgil translating roughly to "always a woman," was tattooed on Laura Marling's body long before it became the title of her sixth album. Like her adopted motto, this striking set gives the impression of a concept that was left to simmer a while before revealing itself in song. Initially intended as an exercise in writing about women from a male's perspective, Marling soon found that the feelings she was expressing were, in reality, her own, and Semper Femina became the work of a woman writing intimately about women. Crafted in her adopted home of Los Angeles and produced by Blake Mills (Alabama Shakes, Jim James), it's a wonder of musical subtlety, backing off from the cinematic electric desert-scapes of 2015's Short Movie and approaching the acoustic delicacy of earlier albums from a newfound perspective. A classic confessional songwriter, the British expat has found here the perfect balance of wounded introspection and confident observation, getting to the core of the matter with poetic candor on standouts like "The Valley" and the masterful "Next Time," the latter of which is easily one of the strongest cuts of her career. As with much of Marling's work, especially during her California period, the ghost of Joni Mitchell -- another transplanted flower who bloomed in Laurel Canyon -- can be heard on the richly melodic yet beautifully sparse fingerpicked ballad "Noell." Elsewhere, Marling's bluesy half-spoken incantations propel smart slow-burners like "Wild Fire" and album-closer "Nothing Not Nearly," whose unique coda quotes Bach's iconic "Cello Suite No. 1" before literally closing the studio door and fading out to birdsong. Having entered the limelight early, the 27-year-old singer/songwriter has now settled into a comfortable groove to on this finely honed career highlight. ~ Timothy Monger

Pop - Released March 3, 2017 | More Alarming Records


Pop - Released February 17, 2017 | More Alarming Records


Pop - Released January 11, 2017 | More Alarming Records


Pop - Released November 28, 2016 | More Alarming Records


Alternative & Indie - Released July 17, 2015 | Virgin


Alternative & Indie - Released March 11, 2015 | Virgin


Laura Marling in the magazine