There are an immeasurable amount of genres and styles of music today. I once heard someone say “It used to be a new musical style would develop every decade or so, now it happens every day before I wake up.” A lot of the stuff you’ll hear on KZUU falls into that category, but once in a while you find an artist who blurs the line between new and old so well that to an unfamiliar listener, it might be a challenge to guess what decade they were born in. This week’s Band of the Week, Laura Marling, is a perfect example of this.
Laura first broke into the music scene as a member of indie-folk band Noah and the Whale, performing on their first album before leaving to pursue a solo career. Her first album Alas, I Cannot Swim was released in 2008 and was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, as was her second album I Speak Because I Can. While she’s been celebrated for close to four years in the UK, her music is still relatively underground over here in the States. That’s probably going to change with her newest album: A Creature I Don’t Know.
While Marling is a child of the 90’s, and barely 21 years old, she sings with a full timbre that sounds like trained vocalist who lived through the Dust Bowl. It’s a slightly smoky voice, with just a hint of country twang and her native British accent. Her lyrics recall some of the woodland folksy tales of bands like Fleet Foxes and The Tallest Man on Earth. Paired with her ambiguous accent, the songs sound like folk tales from a different world, like something out of a J.R.R. Tolkien novel.
Musically, the album bounces from soft-strummed folk to bluesy rock stompers akin to Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks”. The real magic happens when you get into the midsection of the album, specifically the song pair of “Don’t Ask Me Why” and “Salinas.” Both songs on their own are fantastic pieces of music but its the seamless transition between the two that makes the album become more cohesive and full. The penultimate track “Sophia” is another gem, leading into the folksy singalong “All My Rage.”
All in all, A Creature I Don’t Know is an earthy, strong folk album that will probably appear on many “Best of the Year” lists come December. Below, check out a video from the BBC of Laura playing “Salinas” and check out her new album that was just released this week!