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Always Look On The Dark Side Of Life
The staggering emotional intensity of laura marling’s work belies her 21 years, as amply demonstrated on her new album a creature i don’t know.
Anne Sexton, 04 Oct 2011
At just 21 years old, Laura Marling has achieved more in the last few years than many musicians do in a lifetime – a Mercury Prize nomination apiece for each of her previous two albums, a pair of Brit and NME awards and a host of glowing reviews.
The reviews, she says, are not something she dwells on “for self-preservation purposes”.
Marling is certainly prolific – just 18 months separates her third album, A Creature I Don’t Know, from her last – and if things had gone according to plan she would have released another album late last year, mere months after I Speak Because I Can.
“When we got to the studio I realised that those songs were essentially leftovers from I Speak Because I Can and they just weren’t very good. So I scrapped it and started again,” she says. “Songwriting is what I do and I don’t do much else. It looks like a short amount of time from the outside, but from the inside I’ve had a lot of time. It hasn’t felt that way to me.”
A Creature I Don’t Know is thus a different ‘creature’ from the one she had been planning, one inspired by “a fascination with people and their strange ways.” The title, the cover art and many of the songs, particularly ‘The Beast’, suggests that this is an album about both wrestling and embracing one’s demons.
“It’s the idea of being tempted by melodrama, the temptation of destruction as a way of proving one’s own limits and I think that does crop up through the album. It is kind of a show of how a person is as capable of goodness as they are of darkness. Even with the best intentions at heart, we manage to make some pretty horrific decisions,” says Marling.
A Creature I Don’t Know is given over to brooding introspection, destructive impulses and dark desires. This, says Marling, is a result of how and when she writes songs.
“It tends to be that when I’m most likely to write a song, I’m at my most tired which tends to be at dark times. Happy people generally have better things to do than sit down and write songs,” she laughs ruefully. “Songwriting captures one side of me, I suppose.”