FOLK singer Laura Marling has grown up on her second album I Speak Because I Can - hardly surprising as she was a mere 17 years old when the gorgeous Alas I Cannot Swim came out. No longer a teen, this mature Marling sound is fuller than before, her acoustic folk padded out with a sound akin to the rich tones of Mumford And Sons - showcased best on tracks like Devil's Spoke and Blackberry Stone. However I do feel, like a blanket of snow, that this padding cools the emotion of her first LP which landed Marling a 2008 Mercury Music Prize shortlisting - with nothing here as raw and haunting as tracks like Ghosts or Night Terror. As a result this LP is never going to have the longevity of her debut - put it on, you'll hear it for yourself. That's not a dig at I Speak Because I Can - if ever a second album was a difficult one, this would be it - which more than justifies all the talk, but for Marling such growth upwards is worth nothing if the roots of her appeal are forgotten.
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