“Oh give me to a rambling man and let it always be known that I was who I am”
If there is such a thing as the angel of folk music it has to be Laura Marling. So who better to be My Folking Heart’s first post of the fairer sex? This Londoner possesses the voice, lyricism, and overall musical ability of a woman twice her age. At only 21, Miss Marling has already released two stellar albums, both with a sound that suggests maturity well beyond her two decades of life. At the tender age of 18 Marling released Alas, I Cannot Swim (2008), a gorgeous debut that displays both her youthful exuberance and insecurities (as the titles suggests) as well as her old soul like wisdom. One of the most beautiful voices in the world of folk music is on display in this 12 song opus but what’s truly beautiful, and surprising, about the debut is Marling’s exquisite lyrical content. It would be expected of an 18 year old, not due to lack of talent but simply lack of experience, to write campy, possibly even kitsch lines. Marling’s words contain everything but. Her main subject is young love, a common one for those in their teenage years, but the way she goes about this subject is so genuine and authentic that you can’t help but be mesmerized. She has a poet’s heart and there is no denying it.
If her first album catches you, as it does some, rather surprisingly to me, as “cute” or “nice” but nothing more, don’t give up on this maiden but instead listen to her sophomore album immediately. Released two years after her debut I Speak Because I Can (2010) is an astonishing step forward for the young songstress. Any hints of immaturity or naivete from Alas, I Cannot Swim are shed, leaving a polished and truly exceptional record. Joshua Love wrote, in his review of the album for Pitchfork, “to say Marling evinces wisdom beyond her years on I Speak would be a criminal understatement, considering she’s created a haunting, fully flowered gem of an album despite being younger than two-thirds of the Jonas Brothers.” There is no way to truly describe the maturity emanating from I Speak and as Mr. Love wrote, it would be an extreme understatement to simply say Marling displays wisdom well beyond her years. It is almost unfathomable to believe that this album came from the mind and heart of someone barely 20. The sound of the record lends itself to the belief that it was created by a seasoned veteran of the music world, not a blossoming up and comer. What’s even more amazing is that, when you wrap your head around the fact that Marling is still only 21, you remember how much she still has left to accomplish. She has already released two stellar albums, but the heights to which she can rise from here are astronomical. I, for one, cannot wait to see where she will be in 10 years.
From Later… with Jools Holland a, then 18 year old, Marling is on display in full force performing “New Romantic.” What makes this performance so beautiful is the childlike innocence presented, evident in Laura’s eyes as she seems afraid to look up at the crowd.
In considerable contrast to the first video this Black Cab Session performance of “Rambling Man” from her sophomore album shows a more confident woman in Marling. No longer the demure young girl of “New Romantic,” this little flower has blossomed and she knows exactly where she is meant to be.