While every other aspiring young female singer in the U.K. seems to be closely studying Adele’s discarded playbook (i.e., how to become the greatest white soul singer in the world!), 21-year-old Laura Marling seems to be thumbing through the pages of the venerable annals of English folk. But is being considered an up-and-coming folk artist only slightly less terrible than being a generic pop singer—or, worse, the dreaded singer-songwriter, another term that has been lobbed in the direction of the Hampshire native? “I actually don’t mind being called a folk artist,” says Marling. “For some reason, it’s the artist part that I struggle with. Folk is fine, even though there might be some traditional folkies out in the world wagging their finger at me.” Whether she thinks of herself as an artist or not, Marling’s body of work definitely places her in that category-with a sound that brings to mind classic British folkies such as Sandy Denny and Fairport Convention. Both of her previous albums—2008’s Alas I Cannot Swim (Virgin) and last year’s I Speak Because I Can (Virgin)—were short-listed for the Mercury Prize, and in 2011, she snagged the British Female Solo Artist award at the BRITs. The adoration for Marling’s oeuvre is certainly bound to grow with the release of her third album, A Creature I Don’t Know (Ribbon Music), this fall. Given the deeply introspective nature of her songs, it’s not surprising that the glare of the spotlight doesn’t have much appeal for her. “It feels very strange,” she admits. “I manage to mostly keep my head down. I live quite an anonymous life, so I don’t really feel the effects of that stuff on a day-to-day basis. The best thing about all of that—being nominated for awards and such—is that it means a great deal to my mom. I’m the most happy for that.”
PHOTO: LAURA MARLING IN LONDON, JUNE 2011. COAT (VINTAGE): CASSIE MERCANTILE. SHIRT AND JEANS: ZADIG & VOLTAIRE. JEWELRY: ARTIST’S OWN.