We all know what it’s like to be too intimidated to start listening to a big name artist with an even bigger discography. Never fear, pill Allston Pudding is here with a list of jumping off points that might help you or a friend get well acquainted with what could be your next favorite artist. Click here for our other Beginner’s Guides!
Laura Marling is to me what Taylor Swift is to those with a 1989 birth date. Her 2013 masterpiece, cialis Once I Was An Eagle, stomach is my 1989. We all have those select records that were timed to correlate so perfectly with our own realities that it must have been fate. This 25-year-old songstress is on the cusp of releasing her fifth album, Short Movie. In celebration, may this serve as a beginner’s guide to the three-time Mercury Prize nominee.
Alas, I Cannot Swim (2008)
Marling’s debut, in her own words, “the whole album is about being between 18 and 19, about love.” The album was produced by Noah and the Whale’s Charlie Fink and recorded in West London, when Marling was still that teenager she’s singing about. Alas was sweet, shy and simple—so much that numerous reviews and countless comparisons claimed Marling was the new Joni Mitchell. As a poet, Alas is one track after another that sees Marling wise beyond her years.
With a voice both innocent and sultry, she’s just figuring out what to do with the instrument—between exerting power on crescendos in “Old Stone” and the poppy countryside lullaby (hidden title track) “Alas I Cannot Swim.”
You’ll like it if: You can appreciate the subtlety of bare acoustic guitar and dark beauty of strings wrapped up in young love.
Essential tracks: “Ghosts,” “Night Terror,” “Your Only Doll (Dora)”
I Speak Because I Can (2010)
It’s likely Marling didn’t take the twee (albeit, positive) descriptions of her debut, having came back two years later with a punch to everyone’s gut. I Speak is what I consider to be her statement album. The contrast between this album and the last is stark. Listen to the records back-to-back, and here lyrics swapped from “there’s a boy across the river…” to “ripping off each other’s clothes” in a matter of seconds.
Marling is taking risks here, trading youth for unwavering female strength, with a bulked recording band following suit. I Speak catalogues Marling through coming of age lust, battles with anxiety and darkness. Here the simplicity of her roots found a new home rooted deep into a folk-rock core, drawing comparisons to a punchier Cat Power. With the closer, “I Speak Because I Can,” the album soars into a crashing ecstasy that can only leave you with goosebumps and thankful for the ride.
You’ll like it if: You empathize with the mankind’s ability to be just as fragile as it is brute.
Essential tracks: “Goodbye England (Covered In Snow),” “Hope In The Air,” “I Speak Because I Can”
A Creature I Don’t Know (2011)
Just when we thought we had the Marling at her fullest she surprised us yet again, this time just one year later. Here she throws her gauntlet back down in nuances of jazz and bluegrass, with a new character for nearly every track. With this release Marling was thrown into the nu-folk category. Pitchfork slotted her as being completely timeless, “Her songs feel divorced from time, lacking clues or signposts to indicate whether her stories and scenes might be set 500 years ago or yesterday…Often with Marling it’s not entirely clear whether these songs are springing forth from a 21-year-old Englishwoman or some deathless, wandering spirit.”
With a new sound on every album, by this time her voice has drastically changed, too. Once delicate chords now hold an alto fervor that commands your attention. The subject matter has also matured into more grandiose storytelling, yet her lyrics are still rooted in her directness that we’ve always heard. With this album, Marling established herself as an explorer and we were left with a stunning 41-minute masterpiece. What could possibly be next?
You’ll like it if: You are in it for the journey and prefer listening to albums from beginning to end.
Essential tracks: “Salinas,” “Sophia,” “All My Rage”
I Once Was An Eagle (2013)
I remember it distinctly. Sitting in a radio panel at SXSW playing guess-the-artist in a room of a couple hundred. Three seconds into “Where Can I Go?” I smiled to myself knowing damn well who the voice belonged to. This was the week the single had been released alongside the announcement for Marling’s latest album due out that summer. I found myself in a room with dozens of individuals as smitten with her as I was, all equally frustrated at the lack of recognition in American radioplay and media alike. There were whispers of “maybe this will be the year for her.” I listened to I Once Was 100+ times from beginning to end, it was how I started and ended every day that summer. This was the moment when I had found an album so perfectly written and timed in the way that it felt like it was meant for me.
I Once Was chronicles haunting lost love, a rekindling of self-identity, and the sense of being broken. The record is therapeutic and breath-taking as Marling returned to her roots of womanly simplicity this time, not a wide-eyed young girl. Marling herself called it the plainest album she’d written to date. The seamless flow from one track to the next on this record is unparalleled, so much that on tour she played the first three tracks strung together without break—as they are so clearly meant to be. The trend repeats throughout the album through truncated sets. With this record, Marling chose not to work with or tour with a band and recorded both guitar and vocals live in one take. Yes, in one take.
You’ll like it if: You’ve lost love.
Essential tracks: “Take The Night Off,” “Where Can I Go?,” “Saved These Words”
Laura Marling’s fifth album, Short Movie, is out today via Virgin EMI. Check out the first single and title track below. She’s back, this time with a witty bite. It’s a short fucking movie.