One of the things I admire most about Laura Marling is her work ethic. She never slows down, never stops to take a breath. Music is her passion, and her impressive catalog is evidence of that. At just twenty-four she already has four albums under her belt and she was signed as a solo artist at the young age of 17. Marling is constantly composing new songs, not all of which make it onto her albums. She can also boast an impressive collection of unrecorded songs that live on thanks to the internet and youtube. She’s not afraid to play the rough versions of songs live either, and it’s interesting to trace the evolution of her songs through those live performances. The first four tracks off of her most recent album, Once I Was an Eagle, were originally written as four separate songs, all of which she performed live before making them into one long medly for the album. Marling doesn’t need a long period of time between albums, either. Her second album, I Speak Because I Can, was released in 2010 and she released her third, A Creature I Don’t Know, just one year later. Marling has stated that she is working on her fifth album, and hopes to be finished before Christmas, though no official date has been set as of yet. It’s been fascinating to trace her growth as a musician over the course of her four albums and her latest has been considered by critics to be her best work yet. It’s a stunning masterpiece of elegantly crafted music and one can only wonder what Marling will come up with next.
Rarely does a debut album blow me away. There’s a lot of really good debut albums out there, but usually an artist has a lot of growing to do before they can really impress me. Not so with Ben Howard. Howard’s debut album, Every Kingdom, is a stunningly beautiful piece of work. It isn’t even that it’s perfect – because it’s not. Howard recorded most of the tracks live and left any imperfections in because he wanted it to sound authentic. There’s a genuineness and passion in the tracks that shines through. It’s easily one of my favorite albums of all time and it’s one that I love to put on no matter what kind of mood I’m in. But the album came out in 2011 and since then Howard’s pretty much stopped touring, with the exception of various festival and one off gigs. He’s made hints that he’s working on new music, but so far nothing official seems to have been announced. With his debut being as good as it was, I’m eager to see what he comes up with next.
The Last Shadow Puppets
Technically, The Last Shadow Puppets doesn’t actually exist. The group was a side project of Alex Turner (The Arctic Monkeys) and Miles Kane (The Rascals, The Little Flames). The two got together in France, recorded an album in a couple of weeks, toured it for a bit, and that was the end of it. Sure they might play “Standing Next To Me” together when they both happen to be playing the same festival, but so far that’s the only reunion fans have gotten. When asked about the possibility of putting out a second album, both Kane and Turner (who remain very close friends) laugh and hint at the possibility. But it’s always in terms of “someday” and never anything more concrete. For now Kane is content to be touring his second solo album, and Turner is winding down the tour for AM5. Though the two have been spotted together a lot recently (Kane joined AM on tour in the US for some of the dates, and opened for the band on several of their European dates), so perhaps a second album is a possibility sooner rather than later. It’s been six years since the duo put out their only album, and both have grown incredibly as musicians in that time. One can only wonder what a new TLSP album would sound like if the two put their heads together once more.