Entertaining, lovely debut for UK based singer/songwriter Laura Marling, who meshes British folk by way of Richard and Linda Thompson and American folk reminiscent of early Suzanne Vega with rock and pop elements. Alas I Cannot Swim also benefits from some savvy production by Charlie Fink, spare when it needs to be, as well as from eclectic arrangements done by the band Noah and the Whale. Marling is also a charming, intelligent and often witty lyricist, her gifts all the more impressive for her being just 18 years old, recalling another musical prodigy, Roddy Frame of Aztec Camera, who was 16 when he began releasing singles. Alas I Cannot Swim is hopefully the beginning of a long and fruitful career for Marling. Standout cuts: “Ghosts,” “Cross Your Fingers,” “My Manic And I” and “The Captain And The Hourglass.”

http://www.myspace.com/lauramarling

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