Alas, I Cannot Swim

Laura Marling - Alas, I Cannot Swim
Critic Score
Based on 11 reviews
2008 Ratings: #286 / 743
User Score
Based on 73 ratings
2008 Ratings: #91
Liked by 3 people
February 11, 2008 / Release Date
LP / Format
Virgin Records / Label
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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.

Laura Marling - Alas, I Cannot Swim (88) 11.05.2020

Folk, Singer-Songwriter

Ghosts (8.5)
Old Stone (9)
Tap At My Window (9)
Failure (8)
You're No God (8)
Cross Your Fingers (7.5)
Crawled Out of the Sea (Interlude) (8)
My Manic and I (10)
Night Terror (10)
The Captain and the Hourglass (8)
Shine (7.5)
Your Only Doll (Dora) (8)
Laura Marling's debut album offers a series of nu-folk ballads often from the perspective of a hesitant lover. These are songs born from caution and previous heartbreak, an unwillingness to give in because of the likely eventuality of getting hurt again. Forever backed by her acoustic guitar, the instrumentation on this thing doesn't go anywhere out of its comfort zone but that does not leave this album at a disadvantage. Marling's songs are of a personal nature and do not need anything more ... read more
Simply and beautiful songs with style. First of the great folk album and many more coming after.
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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Year End Lists

#18/The Guardian

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)
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