Keep­ing the mod­ern

Laura Mar­ling ad­mits she was not made for these times – she won’t wear make-up on TV, and she won’t play the promo game – but with both her al­bums nom­i­nated for a Mer­cury Mu­sic Prize, she’s the per­fect an­ti­dote to the Auto-Tuned pop stars of to­day. As she

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Cover Story -

THE SNOW is heaped high in Ed­in­burgh and Laura Mar­ling looks dis­con­so­late. Word has come in that all roads north out of the city are blocked. “That means we can’t do the Aberdeen show tonight,” she says glumly. But the roads south of the city are open. “It’s go­ing to be a long, long drive back to London but what can you do?” she says flatly, as if im­part­ing the worst news she has ever heard.

“I hope it’s OK for Ire­land next week,” she says with all the en­thu­si­asm of a tele­phone an­swer­ing ma­chine. Is ev­ery­thing OK, Laura? “Oh, I’m fine” she says. “It’s just tour­ing and snow don’t mix.” It’s clear from the get-go that Laura Mar­ling is no Florence, no Lily, no Adele. Show­biz and all its trim­mings aren’t her bag; her per­son­al­ity re­flects her mu­sic: earnest, softly man­nered, in­tro­spec­tive and a bit oth­er­worldly.

Still only 20, Mar­ling holds a unique record by­be­ing the only artist whose ev­ery al­bum has been nom­i­nated for the Mer­cury Mu­sic Prize. Lis­ten closely to her in­tri­cate, sub­limely ex­e­cuted ana­logue neo-folk mus­ings and some­times you find your­self with no op­tion but to com­pare her favourably with true greats such as Sandy Denny. She’s that good.

The woman who got crit­ics ven­ti­lat­ing when she re­leased the in­choate Alas I Can­not Swim aged just 17 may be un­con­ven­tional – but only by to­day’s im­age-bur­nish­ing, promo air-brush­ing ways. Her la­bel looked at her aghast when she po­litely in­formed them she wouldn’t be do photo-shoots for promo pur­poses. “It’s be­cause I thought those sort of photo shoots glam­or­ised women in mu­sic and I didn’t want it to be about my looks.” As good as her word, she’s still the talk of the make-up depart­ment of Later With Jools Hol­land: Mar­ling is the only per­former on the show, male or fe­male, to flatly refuse any make-up be­fore she faced the cam­eras.

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