Laura Marling

In her native England, singer-songwriter Laura Marling, who just turned 21 in February, has often been described as an old soul, wise beyond her years. Her work is indeed preternaturally mature in its worldview and self-assured in its execution, but -- as her third album and Ribbon Music debut attests -- it's equally informed by a youthful sort of fearlessness. On A Creature I Don't Know, Marling is forthright about her emotions, frank about her desires, and she's not above having a bit of fun before the going gets too rocky. For example, the album's final track, "All My Rage," has a purposely misleading title: it's an exorcism, a celebration, dancing away accumulated trouble on the disc's liveliest arrangement, a disarmingly upbeat climax to an engrossingly candid journey
While so many artists of any age attempt to locate their inner child, Marling, with a sometime steely gaze, measures the prerogatives of youth against the looming realities of adulthood – the spectre of mortality, the betrayals of love, the balm of sex, the yearning for companionship, the need for independence. Of late, England has produced some impressively sophisticated young pop artists like Adele, James Blake and the XX, but the folk-oriented Marling remains in a class of her own. As the Times Of London recently posited, "Who else is making music as ambitious, as haunting, as centuries-straddling, as thought-provoking and artistically tenacious as this? And the answer is: nobody. No, really. Not a soul."

"With a sound that recalls Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash along with the cynicism of grunge and punk, nobody could believe wry singer/songwriter Willy Mason was only 19 when he appeared on the indie scene. Born and raised on Martha's Vineyard, Mason grew up with his parents' love of folk music. He loved it, too, but his teen years brought Nirvana and Rage Against the Machine into his life. Mason found their political and social messages much easier to identify with and soon combined folk's softer and loose delivery with the revolutionary attitude of his new heroes. Writing came easy now and the teenager had plenty of self-penned material ready when a family friend asked Mason to appear on his local radio show. As luck would have it, Sean Foley -- an associate of Conor Oberst and his band, Bright Eyes -- was driving through Cape Cod as Mason was on the air. Foley was captivated by Mason's song "Oxygen" and left his phone number at the radio station, setting off a chain of events that would have Oberst and Mason hanging out, doing gigs together, and touring America. With only three people in the audience, a gig at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, TX, seemed a disaster until one of the three introduced himself as BBC DJ Zane Lowe. Lowe was also captivated by "Oxygen" and added it to his playlist when it appeared on Mason's debut, Where the Humans Eat, released by Team Love in 2004. Critics were positive about the album and unanimously shocked that the literate writer and performer of these songs was only 19. Tours with Rosanne Cash, My Morning Jacket, Evan Dando, Beth Orton, and labelmates Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins increased the fan base and influenced the Astralwerks label to pick up the debut. Astralwerks reissued Where the Humans Eat in early 2006 with bonus tracks and videos added to the original album. That same year Mason assembled a band that included Nina Violet and cousin Zak Borden, and in 2007 his sophomore record, If the Ocean Gets Rough, came out." - David Jeffries, AllMusicGuide

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Laura Marling with Willy Mason

Thursday, October 24 · Doors 8:00 PM / Show 9:00 PM at Doug Fir Lounge