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Alas I Cannot Swim

Laura Marling Audio CD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
Price: 15.95
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Laura Marling - A Creature I Don't Know


'A Creature I Don't Know' has been confirmed as the title of the third album by Laura Marling, it will be released on the 12th of September on Virgin Records, and is produced by Ethan Johns (Kings Of Leon, Ryan Adams, Ray LaMontagne, Emmylou Harris).

It follows the success of her sophomore record 'I Speak Because I Can' (also produced by Johns) - both that and her ... Read more in Amazon's Laura Marling Store

Visit Amazon's Laura Marling Store
for 8 albums, 17 photos, videos, discussions, and more.

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Product details

  • Audio CD (11 Feb 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: EMI
  • ASIN: B0012JQCPU
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 23,988 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Ghosts
2. Old Stone
3. Tap At My Window
4. Failure
5. You're No God
6. Cross Your Fingers
7. (Interlude) Crawled Out Of The Sea
8. My Manic And I
9. Night Terror
10. The Captain And The Hourglass
11. Shine
12. Your Only Doll (Dora)

Product Description


Reading-based songstress Laura Marling has been likened to veteran folksters Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez. Despite such hyperbolic accolades, her entry into the crowded world of young female singer-songwriters has been remarkably hushed and wonderfully organic. Having started writing songs at the age of 15, Marling's success has been achieved not by shouting, but by whispering her way through the ranks. Perhaps because of her youth--she turned 18 just before releasing this Alas, I Cannot Swim--Marling has an understated yet accomplished manner that just doesn't grate like some of her peers. Plus her songs are good--very good. Backed by imaginative arrangements from leftfield acoustic outfit Noah and the Whale, the tracks here are often coyly charming, though far from naïve. Marling digs impressively deep into all kinds of universal topics, from religion and parents to love and romance. Lead single "Ghosts" introduced to many her soft, alluring vocal style, and other songs here share the same sense of intimacy, even if they differ thematically and musically. Things are kept simple throughout (think acoustic strums and a homespun delivery), but there are subtle and beautiful contrasts throughout; the Beirut-esque carnival aura of "Crawled out of the Sea" and the brooding "Night Terror", for example, which provide darker counterpoints to airier fare like the folksy title track and the compelling "My Manic & I". Disarming yet deep, provocative yet peaceful, Alas places Marling head and shoulders above the bawlers and wailers. --Paul Sullivan

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
94 of 98 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's all gone swimmingly 12 Mar 2008
By Dudley Serious VINE VOICE
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Female singer-songwriters are like buses (not necessarily in appearance, you understand, and I'm not naming names): you wait ages and then three turn up at once. We seem to be inundated with them at the moment, and one who deserves the spotlight but isn't getting it so much (because she hasn't been seen shooting her mouth off in public or falling out of nightclubs) is Laura Marling. Her debut "Alas, I Cannot Swim" has also been somewhat overlooked because it is not in a pop/r'n'b idiom and she doesn't sing about, well, falling out of nightclubs. She appears to draw inspiration from an earlier generation of folk-rock singers, the likes of Joni Mitchell, Melanie, Jacqui McShee (of Pentangle), Linda Thompson etc.

The subject matter of her songs is a long way removed from the infatuations of (supposedly) hip urbanites trying to buy tequila at 4.00 a.m. too. Her lyrics sound rooted in the land, influenced more by Thomas Hardy or, in modern terms, Graham Swift than by the usual Camden Town obsessions. For someone who is still a teenager she displays a very mature take on difficult subjects such as parental strife, mental illness, death. God only knows what she might have to say by the time she's twenty-five. This is not to say the album is miserable. It is quite introspective, quite melancholy, but not all sad. "You're No God" and "My Manic and I" have an austere humour and light, lilting style. "Cross Your Fingers" has an almost nursery rhyme feel. And like many nursery rhymes, if you think about it, the words are much darker than the tune. The deft, basic acoustic folk backing is augmented here and there by strings and accordion.

So "Alas, I Cannot Swim" is not a party record. You might not play it getting ready to go out on Saturday night. But you might when you get home at whatever time on Sunday. And sitting at home any time, with a malt whisky, not an alcopop.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Alas, I cannot stop listening to this album.... 17 Feb 2008
Format:Audio CD
The music on Laura Marling's debut album isn't entirely what I expected but, in a different way it's a lot more than I expected. What I thought would be a quiet, subtle, poppy folk album turned out to be a bold, creative, eclectic and incredibly exciting poppy folk album. Considering how youg Laura Marling is, `Alas, I Cannot Swim', has the markings of an artist ten years older.

The lyrics are clever, interesting and at times quite thought provoking. The music is, admittely, secondary to Marling's voice but remains varied and creative enough to superseed that assumption. The focal point though, is indeed her voice. It's fantastic. Nothing more needs saying on the matter.

The majority of the tracks are pleasant, stupidly enjoyable poppy folk tracks; Old Stone, Tap At My Window, The Captain & the Hourglass. But there is the odd curveball thrown in. Ghosts is the opening track and doesn't sound quite like anything else on the album somehow and is definitley a higlight. Cross You Fingers sounds fairly upbeat but boasts the a chorus of; "cross your fingers, hold your toes, we're all gonna die when the building blows." The opening lyric to My Manic & I; "he wants to die in a lake in Geneva, where the mountains can cover the shape of his nose." Unorthodox indeed for a pop record, which intrigues me even more.
Crawled Out of the Sea is the biggest curveball and possibly the most effective; it's a kind folk shanty, complete with accordion and serves to break up the album and is even stated as an "(Interlude)".

It's my view that Marling is strongest when branching out a tad like this; where a natural eschewing of convention needs nurturing.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great start from a genuine talent 17 Feb 2008
Format:Audio CD
If only because Laura Marling isn't another female singer-songwriter jumping on the Amy Winehouse bandwagon this album is like a breath of fresh air.

It's also refreshing that the teenage Marling doesn't sound, lyrically at least, her age. The likes of Adele and Amy Macdonald can instantly be identified as teenagers by some of their lyrics; Marling, on the other hand has a lyrical poise that defies her tender years.

Of course all of this is both a blessing and a curse in some ways; although one cannot say that Marling has been without her well-placed hype, her folk stylings mean that she's not got half the attention that the likes of Adele or Duffy have recieved as 2008 has kicked into gear. It's understandable, mainly due to the fact that her style is not neccesarily fit for Radio 1's target audience, so it perhaps a minor miracle that she's got the mainstream airplay she has at all.

The appeal of Marling lies somewhat in her simplicity. Background noises are left in the mix and her laughter can still be heard. But don't let the simplicity fool you; this is a darker record than her "contemporaries" have delivered. Indeed the pervading theme is the expression of acute heartbreak, a theme that Marling portrays with a lyrical sense that, again, belies her years.

It's not going to appeal to everyone and it is fair to say that it lacks the "mainstream" qualities that more hyped performers bring to the table. It's also fair to say that not everything quite hits the mark either. But there is more success than there is (relative) failure and there is certainly enough to suggest that Marling is rare talent. And like the best vintage wine, there is the definite feelining that Marling is going to improve with age.
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