Back in 2009 was when I first became acquainted with the music of Berkshire singer/songwriter, Laura Marling, when her song My Manic and I would feature in an article outlining the best songs of that year. My Manic and I was one of the stand out tracks from the outstanding debut LP from Marling, Alas, I Was Sleeping, an album that would announce Marling’s arrival on the British music scene.
The track immediately hinted at a depth of songwriting and lyricism that was extremely rare in songwriting of the time. The nineteen year old seemed to be able to write songs that were intricate and multi layered and that greatly defied her young years.
Marling began writing songs when she was 13 years old after being taught guitar by her father, who was an amateur singer/songwriter himself. At the age of 16, she left school and moved to London to try and pursue a singing career. On arriving in London, she ended up working with Winston Marshall (now a member of Mumford & Sons), who was running a club night in London. It was here that Marling would meet Thomas Fink, a member of the popular British rock and folk band, Noah and the Whale, who were looking for a backing singer at the time. Marling would record one album with the band, Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down, before deciding to go solo.
To date, Marling has six studio albums to her name, Alas, I Cannot Swim (2008), I Speak Because I Can (2010), A Creature I Don’t Know (2011), Once I Was an Eagle (2013), Short Movie (2015), and Semper Femina (2017).
For this writer, the standout LP by Laura Marling is the 2011 release, A Creature I Don’t Know, it would also be the most critically well received album of the Berkshire singer/songwriter’s career. Marling began writing this album while still touring her previous LP, I Speak Because I Can. Marling has said that her method of songwriting requires her to allow ideas to gestate over a long period of time and the amount of free time that was available to Marling while touring was the perfect opportunity to work through these ideas.
The album was a collection of ten songs that yet again showcased the maturity and complexity of writing that Laura Marling was capable of. The record would also mark a further evolution in the writing in the sound that Marling was using in her music, she was moving away from the outright folk song of the previous records and had began to intertwine smooth jazzy sounds and atmopheric brass into the songs. Despite these more polished interjections, the grit and rawness that had become a trademark of her music was still there in abundance.
The lead single off the album, Sophia, which was premiered on BBC Radio 1 on 25 July 2011, was a triumph of songwriting. The slow build to the orchestral finish immediately caught this writers attention as all the typical Marling nuance was present, but it was now being complimented by a more elaborate instrumentation.
Other songs from the LP that stood out for this writer were the opening track of the album, The Muse, and also the closer, All My Rage. Both of these songs were another representation of the new sound and willingness to experiment that would become the calling card of this record.
Laura Marling remains one of the most enigmatic and intriguing artists in music at the moment, and her career is easily one of the most exciting to follow. The Berkshire musician has an uncanny ability to continuously reinvent and develop herself as an artist and that ensures that this writer will continue to pay close attention to the releases of Laura Beatrice Marling.