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Laura Marling - Alas I Cannot Swim

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Alas I Cannot Swim

Laura Marling

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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 /TiVo

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Alas I Cannot Swim

Laura Marling

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1
Ghosts
00:02:59

Guy Davie, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Guy Katsav, Mixer, Engineer, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Marcus Mumford, Drums, Percussion, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Laura Marling, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Charlie Fink, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Harpsichord, Piano, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Anna Tjan, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tom Hobden, String Arranger, Violin, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist

(C) 2008 Virgin Records LtdThis label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved.(C) 2008 EMI Records Ltd ℗ 2007 Virgin Records Limited

2
Old Stone
00:02:58

Guy Davie, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Guy Katsav, Mixer, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Marcus Mumford, Drums, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Laura Marling, Composer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Charlie Fink, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Piano, Harmonium, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Anna Tjan, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

(C) 2008 Virgin Records LtdThis label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved.(C) 2008 EMI Records Ltd ℗ 2008 Virgin Records Limited

3
Tap At My Window
00:02:47

Guy Davie, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Guy Katsav, Mixer, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Marcus Mumford, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Laura Marling, Composer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Charlie Fink, Producer - Anna Tjan, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tom Hobden, String Arranger, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Nick Murray, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Laura Dickson, Cello, AssociatedPerformer - Emily Dreyfuss, Violin, AssociatedPerformer

(C) 2008 Virgin Records LtdThis label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved.(C) 2008 EMI Records Ltd ℗ 2008 Virgin Records Limited

4
Failure
00:03:19

Guy Davie, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Guy Katsav, Mixer, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Marcus Mumford, Drums, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Laura Marling, Composer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Charlie Fink, Producer, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Anna Tjan, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tom Hobden, String Arranger, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Laura Dickson, Cello, AssociatedPerformer - Jesse Quin, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Rob Greenwood, Trumpet, AssociatedPerformer

(C) 2008 Virgin Records LtdThis label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved.(C) 2008 EMI Records Ltd ℗ 2008 Virgin Records Limited

5
You're No God
00:02:26

Guy Davie, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Guy Katsav, Mixer, Engineer, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Marcus Mumford, Drums, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Laura Marling, Composer, Acoustic Guitar, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Charlie Fink, Producer, Glockenspiel, Organ, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Anna Tjan, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tom Hobden, String Arranger, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Nick Murray, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Laura Dickson, Cello, AssociatedPerformer - Emily Dreyfuss, Violin, AssociatedPerformer

(C) 2008 Virgin Records LtdThis label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved.(C) 2008 EMI Records Ltd ℗ 2008 Virgin Records Limited

6
Cross Your Fingers
00:02:23

Guy Davie, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Guy Katsav, Mixer, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Marcus Mumford, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Laura Marling, Composer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Charlie Fink, Producer, Glockenspiel, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Organ, Piano, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Anna Tjan, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

(C) 2008 Virgin Records LtdThis label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved.(C) 2008 EMI Records Ltd ℗ 2008 Virgin Records Limited

7
Crawled Out Of The Sea (Interlude)
00:01:16

Guy Davie, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Guy Katsav, Mixer, Engineer, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Marcus Mumford, Drums, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Laura Marling, Composer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Charlie Fink, Producer, Accordion, Ukulele, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Anna Tjan, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

(C) 2008 Virgin Records LtdThis label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved.(C) 2008 EMI Records Ltd ℗ 2008 Virgin Records Limited

8
My Manic And I
00:03:56

Guy Davie, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Phill Brown, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Guy Katsav, Mixer, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Marcus Mumford, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Laura Marling, Composer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Charlie Fink, Producer, Keyboards, Piano, Ukulele, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Anna Tjan, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tom Hobden, String Arranger, Violin, AssociatedPerformer

(C) 2008 Virgin Records LtdThis label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved.(C) 2008 EMI Records Ltd ℗ 2008 Virgin Records Limited

9
Night Terror
00:03:09

Guy Davie, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Phill Brown, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Guy Katsav, Mixer, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Marcus Mumford, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Laura Marling, Composer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Charlie Fink, Producer, Electric Guitar, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Anna Tjan, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tom Hobden, String Arranger, Violin, AssociatedPerformer

(C) 2008 Virgin Records LtdThis label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved.(C) 2008 EMI Records Ltd ℗ 2008 Virgin Records Limited

10
The Captain And The Hourglass
00:03:09

Guy Davie, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Guy Katsav, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Marcus Mumford, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Laura Marling, Composer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Charlie Fink, Producer, Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Anna Tjan, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tom Hobden, String Arranger, Violin, AssociatedPerformer

(C) 2008 Virgin Records LtdThis label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved.(C) 2008 EMI Records Ltd ℗ 2008 Virgin Records Limited

11
Shine
00:02:39

Guy Davie, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Guy Katsav, Mixer, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Laura Marling, Composer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Charlie Fink, Producer - Anna Tjan, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

(C) 2008 Virgin Records LtdThis label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved.(C) 2008 EMI Records Ltd ℗ 2008 Virgin Records Limited

12
Your Only Doll (Dora)
00:07:15

Guy Davie, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Guy Katsav, Mixer, Engineer, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Marcus Mumford, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Laura Marling, Composer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Charlie Fink, Producer, Percussion, Piano, Harmonium, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Anna Tjan, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tom Hobden, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Laura Dickson, Cello, AssociatedPerformer

(C) 2008 Virgin Records LtdThis label copy information is the subject of copyright protection. All rights reserved.(C) 2008 EMI Records Ltd ℗ 2008 Virgin Records Limited

Album Description

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 /TiVo

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