Album Review: Laura Marling - A Creature I Don't Know Featured

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Despite her role as the handmaiden of the recent British folk-pop revival, Laura Marling’s third album still seems to mystify and estrange. If you’re hoping for answers to the world of Laura Marling in this album, you’ll be disappointed. In the “keep them questioning” spirit of Bob Dylan, the album seems tantalizingly inscrutable and sometimes even frustratingly distant.

That’s not to say that she doesn’t touch upon the emotional core of her listeners. “Don’t Ask Me Why” is the third song on the album, and reaches outwards towards an uncharacteristic sympathy with her listeners, where “Those of us who are lost and low/ I know how you feel / I know it’s not right / But it’s real”.  But, making like Dylan, Marling consistently undercuts our ability to fully pry: "Don't ask me why and I'll tell you no lies." But if we could perceive any sense of coldness coming from Marling, it’s definitely undone by the heat of sexuality as she also dabbles in her animalistic side; “I'm nothing but a beast/ And I call you when I need to feast".

If “New Romantic”, her first single written and released at the tender age of fifteen, didn’t spark a light of unconventionality, (“Watch my steady lonesome gate/ and beware”), at the age of twenty one, she still seems to lack any conformity to what we’d normally expect of a young, female song-writer. “Where I’ve been lately is no concern of yours”, she sneers in her southern rock shakedown that is the fourth song on the album, “The Beast”.

If we could gage anything about Marling from her music, it would be that she gives away only a sense of her own precocity and her strange inability to let us accept her as anything less than infirm: to “ watch my body weaken / My mind drift away”. Yet this is what makes Marling totally individual. We can never fully feel like we’ve opened her book, but this ultimately leaves us with the ghostly outline of an artist’s talented craft. Her words aren’t obvious, and she’s certainly no Taylor Swift, but through an avoidance of being idealised she pushes us to pursue her further, and will do for years to come. 

Stephanie Skarbek

I'm in my second year studying English Literature and Language at Leeds. In my spare time, which I never seem to have a lot of, I like to draw, play the drums and watch Korean films. I also write short stories, and spend my time investing in comic books and cheap clothing on ebay!

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