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Laura Marling - A Creature I Don't Know Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 9
Musicianship 9
Lyrics 9
Production 9
Creativity 9
Lasting Value 9
Reviewer Tilt 9
Final Verdict: 90%
Member Ratings
Vocals 9.25
Musicianship 9.63
Lyrics 9.63
Production 9.25
Creativity 9.88
Lasting Value 10
Reviewer Tilt 9.13
Average: 95%
Inside AP.net

Laura Marling - A Creature I Don't Know

Reviewed by: Kyle Huntington (09/14/11)
Laura Marling - A Creature I Don't Know
Release Date: 09/12/2011
Record Label: Ribbon Music


It’s hard to not address Marling’s age when listening to her new records for the first time let alone writing a review, in the same way that it is hard for anybody to not immediately roll their eyes at the inevitable mention of this matter. There is a small shame in this instinctive thought but it is in no way a cloud which hangs over the experience of listening to the music. If anything, it should be a quick acknowledgement of her incredible talent, beauty and craft. All attributes which appear to be at the same level of standard as a treasured veteran.

Laura Marling has the ability to take us on a journey with her from album to album as we experience her growth as an artist, but it is her skill for taking the listener on deeper journeys within each release that really shines. The road we travel on through A Creature I Don’t Know is the most scenic and adventurous one yet, where we hear of Marling wrestling with expectations, emotions, beasts, deceit and her own personal vices throughout. The sound seems to have broken free of any constraints it may have once had, now returning to us like a hungry and ready folk monster accompanied by its blues, jazz and rock sidekicks.

“The Muse” is a refreshing opener, shuffling along with a blues guitar/banjo combo and a soothing jazz double bass underneath. This is the introduction to one of the reoccurring characters of the album, The Beast, as well as the set up for the many tales told of what Marling described as “the difficult balance between wanting and needing”.

“A man who talked to me so candidly/ More than I’d choose… I feel again the bruise/ of longing ever longing to be confused... I'm nothing but a beast/ And I call you when I need to feast.”

“I Was Just A Card” is a perfect demonstration of how this album has a looser feel to it. A swooning horn and strings section is followed by a very delicate and lonely guitar, then Marling’s soft vocals echo the guitar’s melody until it all builds into a much more up-tempo full band effort…only to go right back to the beautifully subdued sound of Marling and her guitar once again. This start/stop method and somewhat experimental nature runs throughout the album and is executed wonderfully.

The centre-piece of the album comes in the form of “The Beast”, a devastating and confrontational tale which declares how the freedom promised by love was instead replaced by confusion and deceit. This ends up producing some very stark and angry imagery in an incredibly effective (and affective) way.

“You’re ok now, I suppose / You’re not pulled by the rope / I’m pulled by the pull on my throat / I’m pulled by the rope / I swing from the trees into the slope / Hold my head high, just by the tip of my toes… Put your eyes away if you can’t bear to see your old lady laying down next to the beast / Tonight he lies with me…and here come the beast.”


Laura Marling begins the track alone with her guitar, until an electric guitar teases it’s way in with gentle waves, hinting at the forthcoming events. A tribal drumbeat and eerie guitars layer themselves on until finally a series of dirty and distorted bass and guitars take over, driven by the relentless snap of the snare drum. In all honesty, this track feels like an album’s worth of ideas, effects and emotions all in one song and it is easily one of Marling’s most triumphant masterpieces.

Things are very quickly lulled into a sense of reflection after this juggernaut. “Night After Night” feels like the calm after the storm and is consequently one of the most beautiful songs on the album. Channeling the sounds of “Night Terror” or “What He Wrote” from previous efforts, Marling’s voice excels in the lower registers over a Spanish guitar. As is the case with the majority of her songs, the lyrics continue to be brilliantly descriptive and poetic, so much so that they could lend themselves as spoken word pieces seamlessly. It’s something which may be over looked on the first few listens, but once fully ingested, the stories told are incredibly hard to not be wrapped up in.

“My love is driven by rage / I should just leave you instead of deceive you, but I don’t / Night after night, day after day / Would you watch my body weaken, my mind drift away? / I account to no-one, hold nobody’s ear / I showed you my hand once and you hit me in fear / I don’t stand for the devil / I don’t whisper in ears / I stand on the mountains and call people to hear.”


Where Alas, I Cannot Swim proved Marling’s potential and gift for various styles of composition including hooks and simple beauty and I Speak Because I Can showcased the perfectly constructed album of angst, fragility, restraint and musicianship, A Creature I Don’t Know is loose and free which means there are fewer boundaries. Each track emanates a somewhat raw yet haunting quality and this feels like Marling is extending a more open invitation to listen intently to her songs. The fact that this is the third album in a row of outstanding themes and songs is a real feat and Marling’s levels of confidence have clearly risen, as have her guitar playing and songwriting skills. Because of this, it feels like a new chapter of a new book for Laura Marling, one where she is now almost fully aware of her ability to write truly great songs. If she maintains this faith in her abilities, her albums will continue to awe, inspire and provide tough competition for the rest of the world.

9/10

Recommended If You LikeJoni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Ryan Adams

Details1) The Muse
2) I Was Just a Card
3) Don't Ask Me Why
4) Salinas
5) The Beast
6) Night After Night
7) My Friends
8) Rest in the Bed
9) Sophia
10) All My Rage

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Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 17.
08:14 AM on 09/14/11
#2
Here It Goes
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I can't get into Laura Marling. Maybe this album will change that.
08:30 AM on 09/14/11
#3
Kyle Huntington
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I can't get into Laura Marling. Maybe this album will change that.
I hope so, it's superb.
08:59 AM on 09/14/11
#4
Spenny
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Great review, really need to check this out!
09:04 AM on 09/14/11
#5
Kyle Huntington
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Great review, really need to check this out!
Thank you very much! Let me know what you think of it when you do listen!
11:33 AM on 09/14/11
#6
djemilah
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Been waiting all week for the review, cant wait to order it!
11:49 AM on 09/14/11
#7
Cody Nelson
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Album of the year.
11:57 AM on 09/14/11
#8
Kyle Huntington
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Been waiting all week for the review, cant wait to order it!
It would have been up sooner if it wasn't for my internet being down for two days, apologies! Hope you enjoy the review and the record.
Definitely a contender, easily.
02:32 PM on 09/14/11
#9
Jlee@thedisco
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my friends is one of the best songs ive heard in a long time, it kinda bums me out that i may be the only one that thinks that as i have not encountered a single review that refers to it haha
09:05 PM on 09/14/11
Kyle Huntington
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my friends is one of the best songs ive heard in a long time, it kinda bums me out that i may be the only one that thinks that as i have not encountered a single review that refers to it haha
Trust me, I could write paragraphs on every song on this album, but I didn't want it to be an overload.
10:45 PM on 09/14/11
Jlee@thedisco
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Trust me, I could write paragraphs on every song on this album, but I didn't want it to be an overload.
i wish it was an overload. everyone on this site needs to have a separate blog going where they nitpick everything and see all they can about an album. good review man
04:38 AM on 09/15/11
djemilah
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It would have been up sooner if it wasn't for my internet being down for two days, apologies! Hope you enjoy the review and the record.

I'm just happy someone one the site has started reviewing and posting news about Laura Marling; great review, by the way
08:34 AM on 09/15/11
Kyle Huntington
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i wish it was an overload. everyone on this site needs to have a separate blog going where they nitpick everything and see all they can about an album. good review man
Yeah, I don't like my reviews to be novels really. Because it's not what I like to read when looking at a review, in the same respect I enver enjoy a paragraph or two. So I try to toe the line, amybe I should do track-by-track analysis' of albums in my blog seperate to the reviews though, not a bad shout.
I'm just happy someone one the site has started reviewing and posting news about Laura Marling; great review, by the way
Thanks a lot, really appreciate it, hope you enjoy the album?
10:50 AM on 09/15/11
Jlee@thedisco
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Yeah, I don't like my reviews to be novels really. Because it's not what I like to read when looking at a review, in the same respect I enver enjoy a paragraph or two. So I try to toe the line, amybe I should do track-by-track analysis' of albums in my blog seperate to the reviews though, not a bad shout.

Thanks a lot, really appreciate it, hope you enjoy the album?
yeah i think that would be really awesome. i dont know how many people in addition to me would be interested in that, but im one of those people that really like to talk about everything in music and stuff.
03:49 AM on 09/18/11
djemilah
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Thanks a lot, really appreciate it, hope you enjoy the album?

Came home last night to find it propped up against my door, so far I'm loving it. Did she ever include the WW2 letters that there was meant to be an album based on? Or was it never realised?
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