In her native England, singer-songwriter Laura Marling, who just turned 22 in February, has often been described as an old soul, wise beyond her years. Her work is indeed preternaturally mature in its worldview and self-assured in its execution, but -- as her third album and Ribbon Music debut attests -- it's equally informed by a youthful sort of fearlessness. On A Creature I Don't Know, Marling is forthright about her emotions, frank about her desires, and she's not above having a bit of fun before the going gets too rocky. For example, the album's final track, "All My Rage," has a purposely misleading title: it's an exorcism, a celebration, dancing away accumulated trouble on the disc's liveliest arrangement, a disarmingly upbeat climax to an engrossingly candid journey
While so many artists of any age attempt to locate their inner child, Marling, with a sometime steely gaze, measures the prerogatives of youth against the looming realities of adulthood â€“ the spectre of mortality, the betrayals of love, the balm of sex, the yearning for companionship, the need for independence. Of late, England has produced some impressively sophisticated young pop artists like Adele, James Blake and the XX, but the folk-oriented Marling remains in a class of her own. As the Times Of London recently posited, "Who else is making music as ambitious, as haunting, as centuries-straddling, as thought-provoking and artistically tenacious as this? And the answer is: nobody. No, really. Not a soul."
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