Laura Marling, 'A Creature I Don't Know' (Ribbon Music)

A Creature I Don't Know
Critical Mass
Release Date: September 13, 2011
Label: Ribbon Music

by Garrett Kamps

From her origins in the London folk scene that produced Mumford & Sons to the studied, literate songcraft of her first two albums, Laura Marling has rightly earned a reputation as the real deal, a wise-beyond-her-21-years traditionalist, evoking the legendary Brit-folk voices of Shirley Collins, Sandy Denny, and Linda Thompson. Here she pays homage to Leonard Cohen's "Chelsea Hotel #2" ("Night After Night"), crescendos lustrously ("My Friends"), and sharply references Steinbeck ("Salinas"). If the Sheryl Crow–isms of the first few tracks throw you off, sit tight: From tempestuous meditation "The Beast" on, every song is chillingly badass.

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