Laura Marling - Ghosts
Simon Jay Catling 04/02/2008
If you aren't aware that female singers are “in” at the moment then you really have been living under a large rock that Stonehenge itself would be proud to allow into its circle. Rarely a week goes by without the ever hyper-animated Jools Holland introducing a sultry looking female onto Later.. or the NME publishing list after list of singers destined to take 2008 by storm. The names Duffy and Adele are gathering interest at an overwhelming speed and the likes of Kate Nash, Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse are pretty much nailed on household names. Indeed if you are one of the fairer sex and possess either an acoustic guitar and/or a voice of startling range, you might as well pack your bags and get the next taxi to your nearest record label headquarters.
So where does Laura Marling fit into all of this? The young singer from Hampshire has done the Later.. slot, she's been in the future stars of 2008 lists and she's signed the major record deal; and now, shortly before the release of her debut album Alas I Cannot Swim, we have a single in the form of Ghosts. At just a shade over three minutes long, Ghosts is a precise, wistful meander of a tune. Starting with an acoustic guitar that dreams of hazy summer days, Marling's soft, fragile voice recounts the tale of a boy's lament over his lost loves. There is a very intimate, vulnerable feel to this opening; as equally as far away from the cockney market yowl of Nash and Allen as it is from the grandiose cabaret of the likes of Winehouse and Duffy. In order to combat her peers Marling has taken the remarkable step of trying to be as unremarkable as possible. Essentially Laura follows a well worn country tinged route with simple storytelling and simple characters- the boy who 'went crazy at nineteen said he'd lost all his self-esteem'. A gently strutting bass line prevents us from drifting dreamily into late afternoons, dusty cornfields and summer romances and the piece gradually eases to an understated crescendo that typifies Marling herself.
As the battle of the songstresses starts to click through the gears this quiet, genuine offering easily holds it own in more brash and celebrated company. I could argue that in a few months time everyone is going to be heartily sick to the back teeth of the sheer number of shuffling, timid singer songwriters touring the country but let's not get ahead of ourselves. There's certainly enough her to warrant further interest.