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 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.