WISE BEYOND HER YEARS: After last week’s stunning Jenny Lewis show at the Lobero Theatre, it’s a challenge to speak emphatically about another gorgeous, sweet-voiced, and folk-inspired singer/songwriter. That said, Laura Marling certainly makes me want to try. This Saturday, the young British songstress with the enrapturing voice and golden mane stops over in Santa Barbara for a show at the picturesque Presidio Chapel. I’m anticipating the event to be nothing less than jaw-dropping.
Since being discovered via Myspace back in 2007, the young Marling (she’s just 22) has carved out an impressive niche on the indie-folk circuit. But even before all of that, Marling was stealing the show as part of the early lineup of Noah and the Whale and delivering a number of ear-perking guest spots on records from Mystery Jets and The Rakes. Nowadays, the elfin singer is touting her third record, last year’s lauded A Creature I Don’t Know and touring the world on its behalf. She’s also managed to distance herself from a Brit-tabloid–worthy breakup with Mumford & Sons’ Marcus Mumford by virtue of her songbook. And that’s no small feat.
On A Creature I Don’t Know, Marling expands upon her specific brand of folk, crafting songs that are enveloping and tear-jerking while remaining lyrically mysterious. Delivery-wise, though, Marling accomplishes what few of her contemporaries (and not many of her predecessors) can do: She evokes emotion through her tones, inflections, and pauses just as much as through the words she puts to paper. In terms of sonic touchstones, A Creature aligns itself with Joni Mitchell’s poignant speak-sings even as it calls to mind Tori Amos’s dramatic piano flourishes. Unlike either of those women, though, Marling lays claim to a voice that feels plucked from early-20th-century Appalachia; it’s fluttering one moment, passionately commanding the next.
There’s also a sizable bonus to catching Marling’s Santa Barbara debut: the location. The Presidio’s charming chapel may be known as one of S.B.’s many go-to wedding spots, but its décor (think hand-painted tiles, Spanish architecture, and gold-flecked wall sconces) and acoustics are just as well suited for an intimate musical affair. My recommendation is you get there early and snag a spot up front, where you can really take it all in. Laura Marling plays an all-ages show at El Presidio Chapel (123 E. Canon Perdido St.) on Saturday, June 30, at 8 p.m. Visit clubmercy.com for tickets.
ALSO THIS WEEK: If the whole sit-down-concert setup isn’t your thing, head down to Muddy Waters Café (508 E. Haley St.) on Saturday night for the return of Finn Riggins. These Idaho-based experimentalists have been longtime favorites with the Santa Barbara scene, thanks to their infectious mix of layered electronic and acoustic drums, effects-heavy guitar noodling, and funky beats. On their latest EP, Benchwarmers, the band embraces their kooky side and comes away with a record that is, simply put, toe-tappingly catchy. They’re also calling upon some of Santa Barbara’s finest to help flesh out the lineup, including indie pop rockers Little Owl and Indian Trading Furs. The all-ages show starts at 9 p.m. Call 966-9328 for details.
On Thursday, July 5, Bay Area folk rockers Tumbleweed Wanderers headline SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.) in support of their soon-to-be-released debut. Known for their impromptu street sets and potent mix of found-object music making and tight vocal harmonies, these guys give new meaning to the term busking. They also bring a refreshingly raw energy to their onstage sets. To check it out for yourself, visit tumbleweedwanderers.bandcamp.com. For tickets and info to Thursday’s show, call 962-7776 or visit sohosb.com.