Bands to Watch #26: Laura Marling

By on Friday, 15th August 2008 at 11:40 am

Just when you thought young British artists had sold out to instant fame, musical gimmicks and a kooky image, Laura Marling strolls along and restores your faith.

This 18-year-old is beyond her years. She has already been compared to Joni Mitchell and her lyrics posess a worldly wisdom that you certainly wouldn’t expect from a small town Reading lass.

You’ve gotta hand it to her, the girl’s got substance.

It all began around the family fire when her Dad taught her some blues on his old guitar. Marling was three.Through school, she played piano and drums and wrote songs in her dinner hour although admittedly, these were “absolutely awful.”

When new kid on the block Jamie T spotted Laura at her second ever gig and asked her to tour with him, it was safe to say that she had made it.

Typical Marling, she did something completely unheard of for the release of her debut album Alas, I Cannot Swim (Produced by Noah & The Whale frontman Charlie Fink). Fed up with the way music had been reduced to MP3’s on bad headphones, she designed a beatifully crafted Song Box, complete with her album, postcards, trinkets and a ticket to one of her concerts. Genius.

“I want people to love music,” she says. “I want people to treasure it, not just my songs, but treasure music.”

Her album earned her a nomination for a 2008 Mercury Music Prize and rightly so. Her growing reputation also meant she bagged herself a slot opening shows for Naturalismo prince of folk rock, Devendra Banhart.

Forget Joan Baez. Forget Martha Wainwright. Her music is unlike anything you have heard before. ‘She’s Changed’ is a more telling look into the mind of a teenage girl than you’d get from an entire series of Jacqueline Wilson books. ‘My Manic and I’ is a haunting song which reflects the doubt and delusion at the heart of man.

Oh, and the vocals. Sweet but daring. Always complementing, never suffocating. She is leading the way for a new folk generation.

Laura Marling, alt folk darling.

Photos are taken from Rob Sinclair’s flickr stream and R.W.W.’s flickr stream, both under the Creative Commons License.

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