Alas, I Cannot Swim
Laura Marling - Alas, I Cannot Swim
Critic Score
Based on 11 reviews
2008 Ratings: #286 / 726
User Score
Based on 44 ratings
2008 Ratings: #56
February 11, 2008 / Release Date
LP / Format
Virgin Records / Label
Charlie Fink / Producer / Website
Your Review



Her songs are similarly sparse and fragile, with some astonishingly mature lyrics framed by beautifully pretty melodies.

The Guardian

The unnervingly grown-up Alas I Cannot Swim is the result, and if it doesn't install her as the heir to the likes of Devendra Banhart, there's no hope for folk-pop.

Drowned in Sound

Where Adele sounds like a method actor, Marling weaves secretive threads of thought that suggest she’s agonised over things long enough for them to come together with a thud in plain-spoken full stops.


There's every chance that Laura Marling will get lost in the shuffle as the unexpected commercial success of Feist's The Reminder leads major labels to unleash hordes of similarly talented female singer/songwriters, but Alas I Cannot Swim is far better than the average coffee house-endorsed girly pop.


Marling’s voice, rich and tenuous, recalls Joni Mitchell, but her fatalistic screeds — sung over acoustic guitar, with an occasional burst of percussion or strings — owe more to Nick Drake and Will Oldham.


Her creamy voice canters over deft fingerpicked guitars and celtic violin throughout the rest of the album, and although the heights of the aforementioned song are barely hinted at elsewhere, Marling’s promise – she’s just 17 years old – is as clear as spring water.

Jun 16, 2013
A confident, searching and mature debut from a woman who has gone onto be the greatest contemporary singer-songwriter the UK has produced in a hell of a long time. This album is good, and the main issue within it, is that it is utterly dwarfed by every ensuing album Marling has produced since. Standout tracks include the world-weary 'Failure', haunting 'My Manic And I', gothic 'Night Terror' and the lamentations of the title track, 'Alas, I Cannot Swim'
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#18/The Guardian
#83/NME (2000s)
Track List
  1. Ghosts
  2. Old Stone
  3. Tap At My Window
  4. Failure
  5. You're No God
  6. Cross Your Fingers
  7. Crawled Out of the Sea (Interlude)
  8. My Manic and I
  9. Night Terror
  10. The Captain and the Hourglass
  11. Shine
  12. Your Only Doll (Dora)