Sunday, October 05, 2008

Laura Marling - Alas, I Cannot Swim

Release Date: 02/11/08
Genre: Singer-Songwriter, Folk

Lover please do not. I was thinking she was part of the trend of recent females to come from the UK. Adele, Duffy, Kate Nash. It's hard to believe she was born in 1990 as her songwriter feels like it comes from an old soul.

Review: The album opener "Ghost" begins like any pleasing folk song, but she changes it up with bells and lightly touched male background voices. I love how she hangs on to the words like "cry-iiii---ing." The climax is well worth it. Think of it as a safe song just unleashed. This song could not have been excuted better. It also raised expectations for the rest of the album.

The next two songs were troubling at first as it was more stripped down, but they are probably her strongest display in subtlety. The way her voice just reflects her state of mind. It just seems to tiptoe into your dreams. The song doesn't last too long and after some rumbling noises, "Tap At My Window" plays. Her struming is so simple and you can even hear some of the buzz her strings make. I like that honestly.

"Failure" was the song that made me take notice. Although "Ghost" had my attention, "Failure" was successful in causing me to place myself in her shoes. The song is a bit cheery and I enjoy how she crams so many words in a simple guitar rhythm. Of course, she takes advantage of strings and the piano perfectly and the song ends with the same guitar melody it began with.

"You're No God" is her most uptempo track. Lots of strumming and I love how her voice just dances all over this track. Like sometimes it'll be at this volume and it'll increase oh so slightly giving this urgent flare to the song. Works wonders. And of course, the extra dings and strings only give it a homely feel.

The "aah aah aah" of "Cross Your Fingers" reminds me of leaves falling. I love how it shuffles downwards. Every piece just seems to fit and then it just safely reaches zero allowing "Crawled Out of The Sea" to take over the listener. What a brilliant song. It's like a circus and I found it to be so over-the-top with all these melodies singing in unison.

"My Manic and I" on its own, not exactly my favorite. But fits perfectly well at track 8. It has the simple folk quality that the listener should have grown accustom to. And I feel that it hints the darkness of the following track, "Night Terror." A frail haunting song. The layering of music as the song gets longer only adds to the drama.

"The Captain And The Hourglass" is uptempo. The melodies here are crazy. Her chorus consist of "tick tick tick tick tick tick tick away" and it stands out for being so fluent. I think "Shine" displays her in her rawest moments. The buzzing in her guitar just adds to her vulnerability. It's crazy how she shifts from shy girl to this beautiful knowledgeable soul. Very short, but she uses every second to the fullest.

After some birds chip away, the album closer, "Your Only Doll (Dora)" starts very elegantly. Basically, she's saying goodbye muscially. Very good in how she floats to and fro and the harmonies with the background voices is love love love. The hidden track is awesome too. It's her title track and it's like a page from Juno. Great lyrics althought it's kinda typical. But still, it's good.

Summary: Too many good songs on this album. I love how she can drift her lyrics around with the instrumentation. I know it's nothing new, but she does it so well that I feel that her songs last longer than the running time and that's a good sign of strong songwriting. So much meat.

Key Tracks: Ghosts, The Captain And The Hourglass, Your Only Doll (Dora)
Rating: 9/10

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