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People think of The xx and Mumford & Sons when they think of sleeper success stories, and while they’re right to, neither have surprised quite to the extent of Laura Marling – the platinum blonde 21-year-old with the heartbroken voice; the Mercury Prize two-time nominee; the Brit Award winner; the soul-baring folk singer who completes new albums of extremely personal, often sombre material at an alarming rate. ‘A Creature I Don’t Know’ is Marling’s third record, perhaps her best, and her fourth is almost complete too. It’s bound to fuel Marling-mania. Hardly chocolate boxes and roses, it remains the singer’s most consistently up-beat record yet, helped on its jaunty, country-tinged way by the opening, skiffling ‘The Muse’. The pace remains more ‘Devil’s Spoke’ than ‘New Romantic’ throughout, with each song yawning into life before – on ‘The Beast’ especially – plugging in like when Dylan did. And with a voice as earnest as ever, even the Andrea Corr moments are forgiven.

By Sam Little

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