Alas I Cannot Swim review by Laura Marling

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Released: Feb 4, 2008
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.9 (13 votes)
Laura Marling: Alas I Cannot Swim

Sound — 9
Listening to Laura Marling's material, you may find yourself noticing a certain amount humour delicately attached to the album. It seems to pull a smile up around your face. And as the music unpretentiously lifts itself above over everyone else in her league, the difficulty in denying how honest, laughably creative and beautifully detailed her sound and sense of melody is becomes ever more evident. You can't quite call her a mockery, as the medicine that she provides is so subtle and so trustworthy. But you can't call her a pop queen either. What I love about her is not how blatantly pretty she is, but how she never quite fit's into anywhere. There's no overripe confidence, or neither is there a pathetic mushiness to her talent. She has struck a fine balance between quirkiness, intelligence and emotion. Yes, there are quite a few acts and bands that have similar sounds, but I find them more focused around one specific area. Marling's grace and aptitude, on the other hand, never allows the music to cerebrate into one bracket whether it be cultural oddness, or just downright emotive opaqueness. It wasn't until recently that she shrugged off such ignorant statements against her work, such as absolutely awful and shit pop. And I give her kudos for that. She is a such a young girl and is still clearly learning about the many aspects attributed to the musical industry both from the creative point of view, and also the business side So, hearing songs such as Old Stone, you're dangerously aware of how old her heart is, and how her ethereal approach to life perfectly contradicts the dirt that she sings about so carelessly. She's reflecting on how independence affects someone's life. While combining it with nave tracks of remembrance and contemplation like Your Only Doll (Dora). That contrast is very clever and showcases her extreme talent. But also her hard-work ethos. She never lets her old heart take control, she still feels insecure and young: My Manic And I, Ghosts, and Tap At My Window exemplifies that spirit quite well. Her melancholy finger-picking in My Manic And I reiterates both her maturity and her innocence. While the classic, laid-back piano and melody of Failure shows how she's not afraid to lay back and let the song take it's own weight. It's wonderful to see someone who is not afraid of their sound, whilst never permitting it to become pretentious or mawkish.

Lyrics — 10
Her vocals, along with her lyrics, are welcoming to the ears; they're warm. Maybe the producer and the excellent backing band also contributed towards that fondness; but it's cheesy, camp-fire warm. It remains gritty and heartfelt, ignoring Indie self-consciousness and needless bitchiness. How folk music has become so spirited and intense is largely assigned to Laura Marling's lyrics. I don't enjoy reeling off quotes from albums I love, particularly without explaining them or pointing out their relevance in accordance with the record, but maybe that is all I have to do in this situation: I can't control you I don't know you well, these are the reasons I think that you're ill. But the truth is, that you never need someone to comfort you - Such indecision is rarely seen in music of this genre. I'd left him dreaming. I roll over and shake him tightly, and whisper "If they want you, then they're gonna have to fight me," While, He used to be a singer in a rock and roll band. He would write the songs and I'd tremble at his hand but oh, la laa. He lost poetic ethic and his songs were pathetic, and he's a failure now. demonstrates how she doesn't rely on one line wonders, but lets the theme of the piece take control, firmly. Cynical humour is faultlessly expressed here. And having that authority is not cocky, it is proud - in the good sense. But, by far, Cross Your Fingers is the one that stands out the most to me. How such little movements of the lips and mind can evoke such awe-inspiring emotions is beyond me, once again. There's no point denying her ability as a singer-songwriter, as even her live shows irrevocably make it clear that she can sing; and she can do it wonderfully. To be honest, I believe she'd still be doing what she is doing, even if she couldn't and that's what, in my opinion, makes her one of the best lyricists/singers of this generation.

Overall Impression — 9
In my opinion, Laura Marling is the greatest female artist in her age group from 16-30 in Britain. I will never stop listening to this album and it's gorgeous, folksy mannerisms. Her lack of fear to experiment with other instruments, such as French Horns, Violins Or Accordions, is encapsulated in songs such as Night Terror and Ghosts. While the simple, stripped down, brush-styled drumming of Cross Your Fingers and The Captain and the Hourglass lends the beats new meaning and direction. It never locks in boringly. Everything belongs in it's place and is used effectively, but never coldly. I've been a fan of hers for a long time now, and I am dying to see this beautiful girl live. Also being a fan of artists such Bjrk, Damien Rice, Leonard Cohen, Bod Dylan, Josh Ritter, Joni Mitchell, and Kate Nash, it's easy to see why I love this so much. It's quirky and different, but never falls into that irritating bracket where the music is all bubbly and pointless. This isn't just culture-music wrapped into a London/Brighton frame, telling stories about night-club adventures and bad hair days, this is real reality, just with Laura's own slant. As her sensitive talent and calm energy continues to amaze me, I cannot help but feel like I'm in love.

5 comments sorted by best / new / date

    i adore her voice, there is somthing very unspoilt and innocent about her, not some awful money grabbing NME monster, sure she cameo'd in a mystery jets song (barf) but i love her down to earth nature, and that she has not let herself become another winehouse. she is focusing on being the music not the scene, and i personally admire her for that.
    fantastic quirky folk singer. She's darker than Wallis Bird and similar artists, I like it.
    truly brilliant artist, saw her supporting neil young a few weeks ago and I can honestly say that, for me, she stole the show. Managed to get a huge sound from just the guitar, snare, piano and double bass. you need to see this girl live!