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Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Musick's Top 20 Albums: 04

04. Laura Marling
Alas, I Cannot Swim

Much was made of Laura Marling’s age when she first emerged, Bambi-like, onto the music scene this year, as if anyone under the age of twenty making good music was some kind of freak. She also caught people’s attention because unlike many young female singers she didn’t sing in a mockney accent, or wear ball gowns with trainers, or pretend she was from Dalston and not a country pile in Berkshire. At the heart of Alas, I Cannot Swim’s success (it was nominated for this years Mercury Prize don’t you know) is Marling’s voice, an instrument that flits between vulnerability and steely emotion in the blink of an eye. Lyrically, she’s not afraid to deal with big topics, from imminent death on the deceptively jaunty ‘Cross Your Fingers’ to mental illness on ‘My Manic and I’, whilst musically it’s all swooping violins, rollicking drums and on ‘Crawled Out Of The Sea’ a drunken sea-shanty choir. ‘Night Terror’ perhaps sums the album up best, a fragile tail of nightmares that starts at a whisper before gaining in strength and confronting the demons.

Key track: 'Night Terror'

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