Laura Marling
A Creature I Don't Know


4.5
superb

Review

by Angel STAFF
September 8th, 2011 | 137 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Ms. Marling wrestles with the Beast inside and crafts the most stunning album of her young career.

Laura Marling is something of a prodigy, a mere twenty-one with now three (excellent) albums to her name. The wunderkind of folk music got her start in London’s own scene at sixteen alongside groups like Mumford & Sons and Noah and the Whale, the wisdom and talent far surpassing her years since separating her from the pack (at least, in terms of quality and critical acclaim if not in record sales). Marling’s latest, A Creature I Don’t Know, is a brilliant culmination and expansion of her work so far, taking her moving vocals, atmospheric guitar stylings, and visionary lyrics to new heights.

The charming simplicity found on Alas, I Cannot Swim is alternated here with busier pieces showcasing extremely skillful composition. Banjo, strings, and horns can all, at times, be found layered against the refreshingly intricate guitar playing. Ethereally dark minor chords and note progressions reminiscent of one Nick Drake contrast sharply against a voice nothing short of angelic. A wide array of vocal deliveries showcases the versatility of Marling’s dusky voice, both powerful booming and near-whispering offering up poignant tales of real people and places, real love and strife. Vivid storytelling gives way to jarringly personal and insightful lines. Even upon being raptured to an entirely new world, the music and lyrics fill it with characters, situations, and emotions all too familiar.

The album centers around the “Beast”, an abstract force manifested throughout the album through both word and passages of distorted electric guitar. It acts on and through people, possessing and creating the struggle within to be pure and compassionate. The Beast makes its powerful presence felt on standout track “Salinas”, the heavy guitar imposing its will against the earthier fare of the Steinbeck-inspired slice of Americana. Following is the track bearing the creature’s name, growing darker and heavier still as the Beast takes hold and Laura warns “Put your eyes away if you can’t bear to see you old lady laying down next to the Beast.” The album draws to a close with “My Rage”, which finds Marling casting her anger to the elements and accepting the hand fate has dealt her - a fitting end to the tumultuous journey.

The young singer pours something of herself onto the record while again recollecting experiences and perceptions of a soul much older than she. Her prodigious talent here is further magnified by the skillful supporting band that goes far in immersing the listener in the candid portraits she paints. The thoughtful blending of dense arrangement and stripped-down subtlety offer a new dimension of texture for Laura Marling’s already unique sound. This refinement musically is augmented by the more complete, conceptual nature of A Creature I Don’t Know, making it her most fulfilling release, one to join the ranks of the most revered titles in all of folk music. Most exciting of all, however, is the fact that she’s just getting started.



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user ratings (115)
Chart.
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
nowhereman1991 (4)
Mature third album from exquisite indie-folk songstress....

Grant Thomas (4)
She sings like an angel; she writes like a poet of old; she is Laura Marling....


Comments:Add a Comment 
AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
September 8th 2011


16137 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Sup Laura Stevenson?

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
September 8th 2011


7338 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Excellent review. I liked this but I just find all of her music to be a bit... plain. I'll probably make more effort with this than the others, though.

psykonaut
September 8th 2011


3913 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

terrific stuff. i had no idea she was 19 when she made alas, makes that album even more impressive

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
September 8th 2011


16137 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks. I've always been far more impressed by her than just about any current folk artist. Her voice,
lyrics, guitar playing, and songwriting really are a cut above her peers. She's always found a way to
combine musical complexity with earnesty and emotive atmosphere, which is why I probably tend to favor
her music.

Tyrael
September 8th 2011


20876 Comments


I said it before and I'm saying it again, you're a talented reviewer.
I really wish you'd write more often. That said, have a well-deserved pos vote.

I'm still a little hesistant to check this out though.

Digging: Darkspace - Dark Space III I

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
September 8th 2011


16137 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Much appreciated. I'm trying to make a little more time for it now that all these superb releases are flooding the latter half of the year.

You 5'ed For Emma, so I really don't see any reason you wouldn't enjoy this at least somewhat.

Tyrael
September 8th 2011


20876 Comments


All right, I'll give this a try :]

Oh and I've heard something through the grapevine about you planning to review Celestial Lineage... Is that true? Cause that would be awesome.

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
September 8th 2011


16137 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I don't currently have any plans to review it, but Crysis' review will probably sum up everything I think about the album. I think there are a couple other people working on reviews for it too, so their should be a fair variety of opinions expressed.

MO
September 8th 2011


18680 Comments


great review dood

needs a feature

Nagrarok
September 8th 2011


8246 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great writing as usual Angel, you have made me interested in this.

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
September 8th 2011


16137 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thank you. A feature would be nice for helping bring some well-deserved attention to this album that
might otherwise go overlooked.

Tyrael
September 8th 2011


20876 Comments


I asked for this to get featured, so hopefully it will appear up top soon! :]

Oh and this is really, really good btw.

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
September 8th 2011


16137 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Awesome. Really glad you're enjoying it.

tkxxx7
September 8th 2011


6153 Comments


Haven't heard it yet but I've no doubt it's great

my gf will flip when she hears it

Jethro42
September 8th 2011


12440 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Well done Angel. Intrigued enough to give it a try. She did gigs alongside Mumford & Sons and Noah and the Whale I mean, impressive route at that age...

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
September 8th 2011


16137 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

She's easily better than both bands too.

BallsToTheWall
September 8th 2011


44373 Comments


I hardly doubt this will hit me as hard as Dear Euphoria but I shall youtube some samples.

Digging: Pharmakon - Abandon

Jethro42
September 8th 2011


12440 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I skimmed half of the songs and I'm sold, man. Such a breathe of fresh air. Kinda modern Edie Brickell at some extent IMO. Really, really cool.

lobby
September 9th 2011


1251 Comments


I prob wouldn't like this right? Last one was boring.

Jethro42
September 9th 2011


12440 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

^ Oh! A true Loreena McKennitt fan there! Last song is not that bad. It reminds me of that fantastic Sarah McLachlan song; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nM_NGOTaCs



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