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In this week's paper I preview stunning British folk-pop singer Laura Marling, who seems to have achieved complete musical maturity at age 21. She headlines Lincoln Hall tonight. Opening the show is Alessi's Ark (aka fellow Brit Alessi Laurent-Marke); she's also 21, but still has a ways to go before reaching Marling's level of artistry. That said, Time Travel (Bella Union), the second Alessi's Ark album (out on Tuesday), is plenty easy on the ears—this is a band to keep an eye on. Laurent-Marke sings in a sweet, wispy chirp and the arrangements push her breathy melodies toward pop convention, at least compared to Marling's, and even though her delivery is still a bit limited, there's an impressive song-to-song variety. Below you can hear her cover of the Lesley Gore tune "Maybe I Know."At the same venue on Friday night, New Zealand pop prodigy Liam Finn, the son of Neil Finn (Split Enz, Crowded House), headlines. I was knocked out by his 2008 debut, I'll Be Lightning (Yep Roc), an embarrassment of hooks set mostly to manically strummed acoustic guitar and exquisite overdubbed vocal harmonies—he pretty much played everything, except drums on a handful of songs. His new album, FOMO (Yep Roc), has the hallmarks of "maturity," for better or worse. Even though he played almost everything again, the arrangements are much denser, the sound is slicker and more elaborate, and the songs have surrendered the insane catchiness of his earlier album for something more serious and detailed. The more I've listened to the record the more I've enjoyed it, but it does seem give up its pleasures slowly. Still, I'm having a hard time imagining I'll ever like it more than his first album, which grabbed me immediately—and judging from the spin I gave it this morning, never let go. Below you can check out a song from the new record that, based on its opening guitar lick and rhythm, I keep expecting to turn into a cover of Spandau Ballet's "True." Thankfully, it doesn't.
Alessi's Ark, "Maybe I Know"
Liam Finn, "Cold Feet"
Sabbagh/Monder/Humair, I Will Follow You (Bee Jazz)
Vanessa da Mata, Bicicletas, Bolos e Outras Alegrias (Sony Music, Brazil)
Satanique Samba Trio, Bad Trip Simulator #2 (no label)
M. Holterbach & Julia Eckhardt, Do-Undo (In G Maze) (Helen Scarsdale Agency)
Sin Ropas, Holy Broken (Shrug)