DARLING of the music press Laura Marling is riding on the crest of a wave following the release of her third album, last year’s A Creature I Don’t Know.
She started out as a folk singer, touring with the likes of Mumford and Sons, Noah and the Whale and Johnny Flynn.
She always seemed incredibly talented for her age.
Her first two albums, Alas, I Cannot Swim, and I Speak Because I Can, earned her Mercury Music Prize nominations.
And she won best female solo artist at last year’s Brit Awards (not easy for someone without much commercial success).
But while her early works were largely solo affairs, last year’s album saw her broaden her musical palette and beef up her sound with a full band.
Most of her Sage gig was made up of material from the latest album, and songs like I Was Just A Card and Salinas sounded even better live than they do on record, which is some achievement.
There were also some older songs, and the title tracks of her two earlier albums in particular both sounded great in their more-fleshed-out form.
She did a few solo songs, to keep old fans happy, including a new one and Flicker and Fail, the bonus track from A Creature I Don’t Know, which she co-wrote with her dad.
Marling herself was charming and her band were brilliant – The Sage was a perfect fit for the warm glow and subdued beauty of the set.
Her songs sound timeless and comparisons with Joni Mitchell are inevitable, but I heard echoes of Leonard Cohen in her writing too.
However, Cohen has spent 45 years learning his trade and was 33 when his debut came out – at just 22, Marling has already released three brilliant albums.
But really, such analogies fail to do her justice. Marling is no copyist, and her body of work is starting to show signs of a precocious talent coming of age.
In my opinion, what the UK has with Marling is a major artist in the making – and one I can only see improving.