Review: Laura Marling – ‘A Creature I Don’t Know’

Originally published for IAreYeti.

Following on from the success of her previous two albums, ‘Alas I Cannot Swim’ and ‘I Speak Because I Can’, both of which were nominated for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize, Laura Marling has returned with her third studio release, ‘A Creature I Don’t Know’. At only 21 years old, she has already proven herself to be one of the best female singer-songwriters in the UK today, with lyrics so mature you would hardly believe her age. While her latest release is by no means ground-breaking, Marling sticks to what she does best and delivers a powerful and compelling first person narrative, in this case of a character attempting to overcome her demons.

Album opener ‘The Muse’ tells us of how the character is tormented by “the beast”, who makes further appearances as the album continues. In typical Marling fashion, the darkness of the lyrics are masked with folksy sounds and even some jazz piano. By track three, ‘Don’t Ask Me’, an air of confusion emerges, where the character seems to have lost sight of herself and her desire to find her purpose is expressed: “Looking for answers in unsavoury places”.

The themes of loss and desire are apparent throughout the album and we’re once again introduced to ‘The Beast’ on track five, where the character’s attraction to evil is made clear: “Tonight I choose the beast/Tonight he lies with me”. In this track, we’re also introduced to another character: “Sophia, goddess of power”, who also receives her own track later on in the album. Marling implies that “Sophia” represents good and “the beast” represents evil and while the character strives to find “Sophia”, she keeps ending up with “the beast”.

By the time we reach ‘Sophia’, it seems that the character has finally begun to shake off “the beast” and has gained some sense of power over her life. This newfound sense of empowerment becomes clear in “All My Rage”, where the character is ready to move on with her life. The last few songs show a significant change musically as well, where the vocals and guitar keys are not as low and the use of a choir for the backing vocals make them seem all the more liberating.

While Laura Marling is a fantastic lyricist and story-teller, what is sometimes frustrating is her inability to just let go and reveal her emotions in her songs. Since she often hides behind different characters in her lyrics, it’s difficult to make a real connection with her as an artist. However, her talent is undeniable and she has only gone from strength to strength as a songwriter, with her lyrics becoming progressively darker and more mysterious. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to see her take a change of direction and venture into other genres, as she has more than enough talent to pull it off.

Overall Rating: 3/5

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