Anti-ingénue Laura Marling seems to embody weathered spirits in her spindly 18-year-old frame. The alt-folk singer/songwriter is quickly becoming the U.K.’s new darling—and she finds the wise-beyond-her-years accolades a bit silly. “I know a lot of people my age do exactly the same thing,” she says. “It’s completely relative to the person, you know?” But her debut album Alas I Cannot Swim is rigged with more tumult than a girl her age should understand. We thus present the following speculation about who Marling might’ve been in her former lives…
Your playground crush: With her impish features and blunt blonde hair, it’s easy to picture Marling as the schoolgirl who kicked sand in your eyes after you snuck a kiss on her cheek. But while other kids were donning tulle and doing bouncy pliés for their camera-armed parents, her father handed her an acoustic guitar and plopped her in front of the family fireplace to listen to classic storytellers like Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.
Jane Austen: Both women possess a heady talent for romance witticisms and trenchant observations about men. The vignettes on both of Marling’s EPs and Alas—which she says are “personal things with a storytelling element”—drift from night terrors to self-loathing to her relationship with a manic.
A hermit crab: Her mesmerizing vocals and downcast eyes made her timid performance on Later…with Jools Holland even more heartbreaking than it would’ve been otherwise. But she comes out of her shell singing back-up for London-based folk-rock group Noah and the Whale, whose lively Wes Anderson-esque videos prove she’s got a hidden stash of childish enthusiasm.