9 Laura Marling – I Speak Because I Can
I know, I know: now we are a day behind and I will have to slot two entries into one day. Blame work and a more enjoyable Christmas party than expected ...
There seems to have been a lot of folk music around this year. Normally I wouldn't notice, especially from this far away in the antipodes, and would be unlikely to care. Mostly I react to folk music with an instinctive suspicion, but then actually quite enjoy a very small proportion of what I am reluctantly exposed to. Usually it just isn't noisy or tuneful enough for me, but every so often I find something or, in this case, someone that torpedos all those preconceptions.
Laura Marling seems to have suffered a bit of a backlash in a lot of the end-of-year best-ofs, mainly I suspect because people are embarrassed by how much they hyped her at the beginning of the year. The funny thing is that it is a brilliant album and outstanding by the standards of any genre. Her songwriting is fantastic and, more unexpected for me, the melody and arrangements are wonderful with piano, strings and full on rhythm section on some tracks.
The faintly sinister and foreboding Alpha Shallows ('the grey in this city is too much to bear and I believe we are meant to be seen and not to be understood ... and I want to be held by those arms') was my hook into the album, followed by the plaintive voice and soaring chorus on Rambling Man ('oh give me to the rambling man, let it always be known that I was who I am'), and on through the beautiful Goodbye England (Covered in Snow) into the enticing depths surrounding.
And the best bit? The louder you play it, the better it gets.